Local Legend Looks Ahead

16 04 2011

Sex jokes, rough housing, cartoon voices and sister teasing — all before 10 am.

Alex Lamica, 18, stands in the kitchen of his family’s home in Chateaugay hours after his aggravated 16-year-old girlfriend called to very loudly discuss her dissatisfaction with the kissing scenes in this weekend’s school play, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in which Alex stars.

“I hung up on her, so I’ve got her wrapped around my finger. I can do anything now,” he says.

Nothing like a little sarcastic chauvinism with your morning cereal.

Speaking of cereal, Alex strikes up a game of keep-away with his sister Meaghan, 21, who desperately flails to reach the coveted box of Lucky Charms dangling above them. The two pace between refrigerator and sink, pantry and oven, hurling the most ridiculously harsh insults — “I hope you have beautiful children and their legs fall off!” “Nobody likes you anyway, you’re adopted!”

Having a sense of humor and a determination to make the best of things has benefited the Lamica family as of late — Alex’s milestones in finishing grade school were overcasted by father Tony’s nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

“I had to be the man in the house,” he confesses. “I had to be what my dad was to this family because he wasn’t here.”

Family photo, 12/2010

“Once the initial shock wore off we accepted it, even though it was really hard,” Meaghan says. “For me, being [away] at school, my daily life wasn’t as effected as Alex and (little sister) Morgan’s.” She notes that every one did their best to communicate by phone and internet regularly, which made “it a little bit easier for us to handle.”

Alex says that his many, many after school activities — including National Honor Society, chorus, band and basketball — served as welcome distractions from the absence at home. “I’ve always been a kid that loves to do everything,” he explained. “In a way it did make the time pass quicker, but it would have been nicer to have him here to experience that stuff with me.”

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 An amy of maroon t-shirts emblazoned with “Beast It Up Big Al” perched intently in the stands of the Glens Falls Civic Center last month. The slogan the family touted throughout the 2010-2011 season was a nod to both Alex’s semester personas — that of an athlete giving his all every Friday night and the lead role in Chateaugay Central School‘s spring musical, Beauty and the Beast.

(Photo: Aaron Eisenhauer, Glens Falls Post Star)

‘Big Al,’ who stands 6’1″, is the tallest player on the Chateaugay Bulldogs basketball team and perfect casting for the role of the hulking-but-lovable Disney creature.

Stepping out onto the court was surreal for Alex, who had been there two years before with a different roster. His only intention was to “play my heart out for the town that had supported me all season.”

The team was knocked out, 59-55, by eventual state champs the New York Mills Marauders in the first round. “At first I felt horrible,” he says. “Now looking back, we were one of the top four teams in the state. I really couldn’t b e prouder of the team I was a part of. They are some of the greatest guys I have ever met.”

That change in attitude is exactly the kind coach Ron Boyea would expect from his men. Alex says the most important thing he learned from Boyea over the last three years is “whenever somebody gives you something that’s not in your favor, you don’t put your head down and accept it. You change it.”

That desire to continually be better is something Alex employed when the drama director approached him, desperate after the Mayor of Whoville cast in Seussical the Musical quit. “They said ‘I’ll give you a Snickers bar if you join the musical.’ I really love Snickers,” he remembers with a laugh.

Maternal cousin Courtney LaPage, 16, recounts “He played modified, JV and varsity basketball,” and the family were “all so proud” when he chose to do something different.

“I had always been kind of curious about the drama thing but never had the courage to see what it was all about,” Alex admits. “I never wanted to be the one to sing the solos in chorus, I didn’t think I could sing.”
Now, with key roles in three productions behind him, he plans to minor in music at SUNY Potsdam, wehre he will major in elementary education this fall.

Mom Joelle Lamica says it would be a dream come true for Alex, if he could return to Franklin County and teach at CCS. He has always embraced the small town, but says “Yes, I’ve been very, very bored on a Saturday. Unbelievably bored. But I’ve never resented it. I try to find something to do, even just a pick-up game in the gym. That’s an advantage of having the coach live down the street — he can unlock the school for you!”

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The Lamica’s home — a tan, single level with attached garage on Belle Avenue — has a neat row of shrubs and rusty basketball hoop in front. Inside is decorated with country touches — a collection of teapots, framed family photos, and antique piano.

When considering all the buzz Alex generates in the town of about 500 families, on stage or on the court, mom Joelle’s eyes widen and she says, “What’s it called, ‘small fish syndrome?’ He’s already talking about it, saying ‘I think I’m going to have a hard time.'”

Lamica with costar Morgan Simonsen and dancer Florence Danjou

“I’ve always strived to be the best at everything I try,” Alex says later. He is grappling with the realization that “I’m not going to be the guy in college that does everything best.” But he reassures himself that college will be “a good opportunity to make new friends. Really good.”

All of his 2011 classmates will be staying within a two hour radius, says mom Joelle.
Alex is hopeful this will allow him to maintain relationships with the friend’s he’s grown up with. “I know there’s going to be different circles — people going to Potsdam and making new friends there, going to Clarkson and making new friends there– but being so close you can bring people home” and create a gaggle of  new buddies.

New friends, and possibly new girlfriends, if his year-long relationship with sophomore Desiree Stumpf comes to an end. “It’s hard to let go of someone who once made you so happy,” he laments. “Part of me is hoping that’s still there.”

Another part of him wonders whether there is someone out there who would better compliment his activity level and his interests. “She’s not as heavily involved as I am,” and he wonders whether her tendency to pick a fight comes as an effort to “knock me down a peg.”

Whatever happens next, Alex will no doubt continue to set a wonderful example for his younger male cousins; Taylor LaPage, 14, Adam Gero, 12, and Jake Bombard, 7.
“I would be honored if they considered me a role model in their lives,” he says timidly. “Not to sound cocky or arrogant, but I cast a big shadow with the musicals and basketball and all the stuff I do. I just hope they do what they love like I have.”

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