Leadership, Perspective Make Landry A Superb Setter Two-time Captain Eyes State Title For NHS
Harrison Landry soars as he attempts to get the ball to Natick’s front-line hitters.
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Harrison Landry has all attributes and leadership traits that can take a team a long way in post-season tournament action.
A 16-year-old junior, Landry, who’s a setter for Natick High’s volleyball team, checks all the boxes that promote team-first play, passion for his sport, dedication and winning.
Consider these facts and quotes on what makes this native of Natick a high caliber competitor and a disciplined leader.
The 5-foot-11 Landy was selected a captain as a sophomore by his coaches, an obvious sign that his leadership ability is welcomed and respected.
Landry’s willingness to play through pain. Last year, he fractured his left thumb. Doctors said he could play but he risked re-injuring it. He played with pain and didn’t miss a match. A month later, his injury was history.
As a freshman on the varsity, the Redhawks had the potential for a lengthy tourney advance but a loss to Lincoln-Sudbury in the first round ended that hope. “That loss stuck with me,’’ Landry said. “It taught me that success comes only when there’s improvement — day-to-day and year-to-year.
Last year’s squad compiled a regular-season record of 13-4 before bowing out of the playoffs in the round of eight to Westford Academy. Asked if this year’s squad will be better, Landry said: “It definitely can improve and I expect it to happen.’’
Landry’s coach, the legendary Peter Suxho, said his setter “knows how to deliver the ball to his teammates and he knows how to execute a game plan.’’ He also lists Landry’s strengths — “a high volleyball IQ, experience, mental toughness and quickness.’’
Landry’s team goal this season is to improve and advance further than last year. He’s not ruling out an appearance in the state title game. “We’ll aim for the state championship,’’ he said. “It’s a lofty goal but it’s also an achievable goal. It’s also realistic because we’ve got experience, depth, athleticism, talent, and five of our returnees were starters last year.’’
Suxho believes his forces have “a good chance’’ to get to the state final and he knows Landry shares that thought. “He’s determined to get us there,’’ the coach said.
Landry’s individual objectives could easily be mistaken for team goals. “I want to be a leader and a role model, and I want to leave the program better than when I arrived,’’ Landry emphasized.
Landry is comfortable in his role as setter, even though it comes with the kind of pressure a quarterback in football or a point guard in basketball faces.
“I like controlling the tempo,’’ he offered. “The flow of the game is in the setter’s hands. The key to be successful involves consistency over time and setting in an accurate fashion. My favorite situation is getting a perfect pass, then setting up another teammate for a kill. An assist is just as good as a kill.’’
Assisting on points is what makes Landry tick during heated competition. Last year, he compiled 324 assists in 17 matches for an average of 19.1. He also had 20 aces and 68 digs. At Local Town Pages deadline, the Redhawks were 3-1 and Landry had 72 assists.
Four teammates Landry admires for their efforts and contributions are Natick’s other four captains. The are senior Shawn Ferguson (libero), juniors Matt Salerno (outside hitter) and Nicholas Bonivere (outside hitter), and sophomore Branch Barnes (setter).
“Shawn is mechanical and has a good eye for the ball,’’ Landry noted. “Matt is a powerful hitter who has experience in close games. Nicholas hits effectively and plays solid defense. Branch has a strong work ethic, high potential and he assists and hits well.’’
Suxho, who’s guided the program to one state crown and three runners-up finishes, gets high marks from Landy. “Coach Suxho is a master of the game,’’ Landry said. “He’s a motivator with a ton of experience. He tells us what’s what and there’s no middle ground.’’
Landry’s best game was last year when Natick hosted Newton North in the second round of the playoffs. The Redhawks won but it took five sets.
“We got hot early but they bounced back,’’ he recalled. “Our resilience kicked in during the final set and I was able to keep the team calm. I had 18 assists, an ace and a dig.’’
Landry, who was a Bay State Conference honorable-mention all-star last year, rates being chosen a captain as a sophomore his top thrill. “I try to lead by example (competitive hustle) and by being supportive and communicative,’’ he said.
An honor-roll student, Landry, who started playing volleyball at age 12, wants to compete at the collegiate level. He’s not sure yet on the venue or his major.
Relying on an athletic philosophy of winning and reaching his potential, Landry, who’s played club volleyball for five years, has learned some valuable life lessons while competing. “I’ve learned to be resilient, how to be a leader and a quality teammate and how to overcome adversity,’’ he said.
Landry has developed perspective and maturity from several role models. He includes Suxho for his disciplined and organized style; his parents (Kathy and Sean) for their support and encouragement; and members of the 2019 volleyball team.
“My brother William was on that team,’’ Landry said. “That group accomplished many of the things I want for our team. They advanced to the state final game but lost to Westfield. Those players fueled my passion for volleyball.’’
Landry’s favorite professional athlete speaks volumes about his own approach. “It’s Tom Brady because of his dedication, his never-give-up attitude and his physical conditioning,’’ Landry said.
Teams like Newton North, Needham, Lexington, Milford and Cambridge Rindge & Latin are foes that Landry thinks Natick could face during the playoffs. “They’re talented and they have tradition,’’ he emphasized.
Suxho obviously likes his Redhawks’ chances. And, Landry not only agrees with his coach, but he also has faith in his judgment.
“I have full confidence in our coach, Landry said. “I concur with his feelings.’’
Harrison Landy has the right stuff to help Natick go the distance. He’s determined, he’s a team-first player, and he allows his dedication, desire and devotion to the game to guide his objectives and his outlook.