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Friday, July 3, 2020

Sports > General

20/20 on 2020 senior athletes: Monticello's Josh Gattling

Jun 22, 2020

By Richard Ross - reporter/photographer

Josh Gattling
MONTICELLO -- “You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles.
There will be doubters. There will be mistakes.
But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits,” averred swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, winner of an uncanny 28 medals. It's a brutal climb to the pinnacle of success but Phelps proved that the daunting ascent to the summit is possible, if…and therein lies the rub.
For you see the vast majority of aspiring contenders never reach that summit because they lack the complex combination of character and skills, which even if possessed are insufficient without a surfeit of heart and confidence. Those key components, along with every other aspect of Phelps' formula for success are front and center in Monticello standout basketball player Josh Gatling, an extraordinary young man who harbors the most unshakeable belief in his ability, his potential and his capacity to work harder than anyone.
Whether it's arising at 4 a.m. to go to the gym before school to lift weights, run on a treadmill and build his unrelenting stamina, or evince his ability to lead a team with words and deeds from the jaws of defeat to the ecstasy of victory, Gattling has proven time and time again that he is that rare breed Phelps alludes to. That irrefutable truth lies in his canon of magnificent performance he has rendered as a Monticello Panther, a legacy that catapults him into the annals of school history as one of the greatest players to take to the floor in the legendary “Pit,” gymnasium.
When asked what he possesses that has placed him at the most elite level of basketball in Section 9 and augurs similar success at the collegiate level as he moves on to study business and play at Orange County Community College, Gattling replies in the most humble and understated manner: “I have heart and confidence. You can't achieve anything in life without them.”
A consummate player who can do it all at both ends of the floor, Gattling exudes incredible stamina, deft footwork and a leaping ability that seems to render gravity momentarily neutralized. He can score from anywhere on the floor and has impeccable court vision to find any of his talented and contributing teammates. No matter if the team is trailing or ahead, it's always a maximum effort he puts forth and the standard he holds himself to requires a commitment and drive few players are willing to subject themselves to.
A four-year starter and a captain of his team for the past three years, Gattling is driven. He never stops trying to be better, stronger and smarter in his year-round pursuit of excellence in the one sport that has come to define him more than anything else in his life.
He watches film, plays AAU basketball, trains and works out, striving to be a better shooter, elicit better footwork and to become an even more relentless defender. And so it seems, it was always so starting in first grade as he took to the floor in the Liberty Youth Hoops under the savvy mentorship of Coach Jason Semo and his grandfather Carl Graham. By seventh grade he was a starter on the Monticello modified team, moving up to junior varsity in eighth grade. At the end of that year he was called up to varsity for sectionals and though he didn't get any minutes, he watched attentively as Monticello's best team at the time under the watch of Coach Chris Russo, ran the floor with confidence and dominance.
That distinction of being the best group Russo would coach would be supplanted by Gattling's cohorts this past season. Chemistry wise, it was the best aggregation of players Russo has ever coached.
“I couldn't ask for a better team,” Gattling avers, always deflecting praise to those around him. “I grew up with them. They're my guys for life,” attests Gattling. Halfway through his freshman year Gattling became a starter and the rest is history. Asked what the game means to him he pauses, “I don't' know if I can put it into words. When I have the basketball in my hands nothing else matters. I'm in my own world,” he muses.
It's a world occupied by nine other people, his four teammates and the five adversaries. Gattling admits that he wasn't a shooter in his earlier years but that changed. “It's become my forte,” he says. Milestones in his career include reaching the 1000-point career total in a game at Sullivan West. The two most memorable moments aside from that: hitting the game-winning free throws in a sectional clash with Goshen in his junior year and the amazing comeback in the championship game this year vs. New Paltz that unfortunately came up just a bit short.
Among the people most influential, Gattling counts his grandmother Regina Gattling, his grandfather, his teammates and most assuredly Coach Russo.
After Gattling's dad passed away back in middle school, Russo became a father figure to him. “He's a big part of the reason I am who I am and how successful I've been,” says Gattling.
Asked how he will adjust to the college game, Gattling knows he has to step up his game. “I have to make quicker decisions.” Is he worried about the prevalence of bigger players? “Heart over height. In my eyes my heart is bigger,” he says quietly.
Gattling sums up the changes the sport has rendered in him. “I'm more involved with my community. I'm a team player, not just on the court but in life. If you need my help I'll be there.”
Of course there is his development of intense discipline and perseverance along with a lack of complacency. This spring he was planning to be at GymRatz and still working with his AAU coach Sal D'Angelo who mentored him on the OC Kings.
But it would take more than Covid-19 to stop his drive to become better.
“I need better footwork to become a more consistent shooter. I want to be able to shoot off any footwork or move,” he posits.
Josh Gattling aspires to move on to a D1 or D2 school after his tour at OCCC. Some people dream of success. Gattling is no dreamer. He plays for keeps.
Nurtured in the enthusiastic, roiling medium of the Monticello Pit and fired by his own eternal flame of desire to be the best he can become, Josh Gattling has claimed his place in Monticello basketball history but his story has only just begun.

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