DuBOIS — It’s often said in sports that the hardest part of building a winning tradition is the actual winning.
Coaches and players can do and say all the right things behind the scenes, but when it comes to actual wins and losses — those are determined by how well a team plays “together” on that given day.
The DuBois Dream, under the direction of player/owner Albert Varacallo, certainly have mastered that “together” part off the court with all the community service work the team has done in its first two years of existence.
With a lot of the foundation work for the organization now in place — both on the court and off — Varacallo has his sights set on the Dream mastering that “togetherness” on the court in the form of more wins in year No. 3.
That venture begins this Saturday with the Dream’s first-ever Overseas Exposure Showcase at the DuBois Area Middle School. That four-team event features the Dream, Buffalo Blue Hawks, Chautauqua Hurricanes and NYC Eagles.
The work Varacallo and the organization has done entering its second season the North American Basketball League (NABL) has not gone unnoticed. The league recently picked the Dream as the preseason favorite to win the Northeast Division.
That division features two teams from this weekend’s showcase (Buffalo and Chautauqua) along with the Lancaster Thunder from Lancaster, Ohio. So, this weekend’s action could provide an early-season indication of where the teams in the Northeast Division stand.
“This all started way back in 2016, which feels like a long time, but really isn’t at this point,” said Varacallo. “This season is a big one for us. I feel very blessed that we’ve even been able to make it to season three, and we continue to grow and build and add more people on.”
Varacallo hopes this year’s Dream roster — which features several familiar faces along with a few key additions. Six of the nine players currently on the roster have donned a Dream uniform in the past.
Along with Varacallo, key returnees from last year include last year’s Team Offensive MVP in Hasiin “Peach” Dixon, Ridgway and Penn State DuBois graduate Sam Roselli, Clarion University product De’Ondre Terrell and another former Penn State DuBois player in Tristan Pierce.
Dixon, a native of Georgia, now hails from Scranton, while Terrell and Pierce are both formerly from Ohio.
A few other faces familiar to area basketball fans also will hit the court this season.
Those who have followed the Dream from its inception will remember the name Reuel Moore. The guard from Newark, N.J., played during the team’s inaugural season in 2016 and is back for a second stint after not playing last season.
On the local level, former Johnsonburg standout and Clarion University grad Cameron Grumley is one of three new additions to the roster. Also new to the team are a pair of New York boys in Demetrice “Q” Jacobs (Harlem) and Elijah Bryant (Staten Island).
“I truly believe we have some top-level talent here this year, guys who are not only talented but working hard and are hungry to win,” said Varacallo.” We have set quite a few goals this year and have set the bar very high and are working towards those anyway we can.
“We want to go undefeated. We want to win our showcase, then go to North Carolina Showcase and win that. We want to win our Northeast Division and win the NABL championship. We want to set the standard high here (moving forward).”
To achieve those lofty goals, Varcallo and the Dream are turning to their third coach in as many years to bring it all together on the court.
That new head coach is another local product in Jacob Perrin, a Brockway alumnus (2013) who graduated from Penn State DuBois in the spring of 2018. Perrin takes over reins from Matthew Stoey, who recently had to step down as the Dream’s head coach.
Perrin, a former teammate of Pierce at PSU-DuBois, was serving as an assistant coach for the Lions but also was going to be a part of the DuBois Dream staff this year as well.
“Unfortuntely, Coach Stoey had to step away, and we’re saddened by that,” said Varacallo. “But, we have nice guy stepping up in the interim for now in Jake. He was going to be part of the staff anyway this season, but he has decided to take on a bigger role.
“This guy (Perrin) is very passionate about basketball. He processes and studies the game very well, and I think you’re going to see that this year in the way he coaches the game.
“He’s fresh out of college and hungry and ready to take advantage of this opportunity. He’s come in with the mindset we have to work, and practices are efficient. We’re getting in and out and gelling together. We’re excited to have him on board.”
Rick Homer, the Dream’s head coach during their inaugural season, is back to assistant Perrin and will serve primarily as the team’s shooting coach this year.
DuBois opens its season Saturday at 11 a.m. against Buffalo in its Overseas Exposure Showcase at the DuBois Middle School. Chautauqua then takes on the NYC Eagles at 1 p.m.
All four teams play again Saturday evening. The losers meet in the consolation game at 5 p.m., while the winners battle at 7 p.m. for the championship. There is a $5 entry fee which covers all four games.
The showcase is the first event in a new-look schedule for the Dream, who will play upwards of 20 games through early June. There will be 11 more home games after this weekend’s showcase, with the Hickory Hoyas coming to town next Saturday (Jan. 19).