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By: Tim Birney | Waverly Athletics | January 29, 2021 | Photo courtesy Tim Birney


WAVERLY — Waverly senior Gabby Picco made it official Friday afternoon, signing her National Letter-of-Intent to play Division I soccer at LaSalle University during a brief ceremony in the Waverly High School gymnasium.

Picco verbally committed to LaSalle in November. (For Gabby’s thoughts on the recruiting process and her reasons for choosing LaSalle, click here to read original story on her comittment.)

Picco, who started at Waverly as an 8th-grader, was a two-time all-state selection, and a four-time all-IAC first-team all-star, despite not playing her senior season in the fall due to Covid-19 restriction.

Dr. Joe Picco is not only Gabby’s father, but has coached on her travel teams over the years.

“Covid may have been the best thing to happen to Gabby because she really worked hard during her time she had to spend alone,” he told those assembled for the signing. “I give her a lot of credit for being out on the field by herself, and working hard.

“It’s difficult to be a parent-coach, it really is, but Gabby did a lot of it on her own, where her Dad didn’t have to force her to do things,” added Dr. Picco.

Dr. Picco has no doubt his daughter will be successful.

“At BC United, we talk about three things. We talk about work rate, making an impact on your teammates and the game, and leadership.

“We talk about how those three things make you a great individual, and how you take those three things and apply them later on in your life,” he said.

“I couldn’t be prouder as a coach and a parent of Gabby, and what’s she’s going to accomplish in life,” added Dr. Picco.

Gabby Picco becomes the 22nd student-athlete to commit to a Division I school in the last four years, including former high school soccer teammates Melina Ortiz (soccer at Siena College), Cora Smith (track & field at James Madison), and Wendi Hammond (softball at SUNY Albany).

 “It’s really fun to see how it’s all turned out, and how we’ve all grown up and headed our separate ways,” said Picco.

“I can’t thank all those girls I played with enough for pushing me, and letting me look up to them, and seeing where they’ve gone and what they’ve accomplished,” she added.

The list also includes several girls who were high school foes and / or travel team teammates, like Sayre’s Chloe Tracy (soccer at Binghamton), Emily Lunger (track & field at St. Francis), Emma Adams (softball at SUNY Albany), Rachel Hutchison (soccer at St. Bonaventure), and current Athens senior Emma Roe, who recently signed to play at Wagner College.

“It definitely pushed me, and I think it pushed us all,” said Picco. “All of us, in the Valley, were very competitive.

“And, I played with half those girls in travel ball,” she added. “I loved the competitiveness we all brought … and I’m going to enjoy watching what everyone achieves in the future.”

Athens Area coach Rich Pitts, who coached Picco for years in travel soccer, is amazed by the talent coming out of the Valley.

“I think there’s definitely something in the water,” laughed Pitts.

“Sometimes you just get a burst of classes that have those types of athletes,” he noted. “Then, you take into consideration the youth programs in the Valley, and being able to travel to different places, within a decent distance, to get even more specific training at a higher level. I think that all plays into it.

“This area just oozes talent for some reason,” continued Pitts. “Maybe it’s because you have these three schools, and the rivalries just drive it. It’s really hard to put a finger on the reason.

“I know coaching for five years (at Athens), you don’t seem to lose talent — I mean talent replaces talent,” added Pitts. “It’s a combination of a bunch of things.”


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio

Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020). Southern Tier Sports Report is set to launch in 2021.