WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – White Plains High School hockey player Phil Variano is The White Plains Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for February.
Variano helped lead the Tigers to the fifth seed in the Section 1 Division 1 tournament. White Plains lost, 5-4, in double overtime to New Rochelle after the Tigers erased a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead.
White Plains has a history of perennially making the playoffs, and that was a tradition that Variano, born and raised in White Plains, could not wait to join. The junior started skating at age 3 and played organized hockey for a variety of club teams. In total, he has played hockey for 12 years.
When he came out of eighth grade, he finally got the chance to join the White Plains High School team and play alongside his older brother. Moreover, it gave him a chance to express his passion for his hometown along with his teammates.
“We all grew up here. We all love it here and we basically want to win for the community and do it for our fans (who) all come out and support us,” Variano said.
Variano bears those emotions proudly. After the team beat Suffern, which went on to win its fourth consecutive section title, earlier this season, the junior was moved to tears.
Head coach Howie Rubenstein said that moment exemplified who Variano is as a player.
“Phil is a great team player. Not only is he one of our best players, but he’s the most passionate player,” Rubenstein said. “He’s the happiest when we win and the saddest when we lose. White Plains hockey means a lot to him.”
Rubenstein described Variano, who plays center, as “the passion” on the team and praised the junior’s ability to fill multiple roles in different games. He can be a scorer, a defender and a passer as the game dictates.
But perhaps is most important and intangible quality is the genuine excitement and emotion that Variano brings to each game simply because he has a chance to live his dream of playing for the White Plains High School hockey team.
“I’m very emotional, and it can get the best of me sometimes. It can bring the worst out of me,” Variano said. “I’m a White Plains kind of kid. I grew up here. I want to represent my community and show them what we’re all about.”
The Athlete of the Month is chosen by the sports reporters and editors of The Daily Voice.