Northeast senior enjoying final year

Pedro Alicea is sure to keep the crowd pumped, even if things aren’t going the team’s way.

Pedro Alicea is the starting shortstop on the Vikings, and he’s doing his best to get Northeast into the playoffs. JOE MASON / Times Photo

There are two things Pedro Alicea always wants to do.

Win and have fun with his teammates.

And this year, that’s exactly what he’s doing. And we’re not just talking about doing it on the baseball diamond.

Alicea volunteers with Northeast High School’s version of the Special Olympics, where students are matched up with special-needs athletes.

The games can get competitive, and Alicea is there to make sure everyone has fun in the process.

‘We’re doing track now and before we did this, we did bocce,” said Alicea, who lives in Lawncrest. “I didn’t know much about track, but I’m learning and then I try and help everyone. We have so much fun. Everybody wants to win, but we’re there for more than that. I love it when everyone is smiling and having fun. Everybody loves it.”

Alicea is having a great time in his other sport, too.

The senior shortstop is now the unquestioned leader of the Vikings, and if you go to a game, it won’t take you very long to see him making an impact.

Sure, he’s arguably the Vikings’ best hitter and his glove is a cemetery for singles at shortstop, but his best attribute might be keeping the entire team chatting and cheering, even when things aren’t going their way.

“I’m trying to do it more this year because I’m a senior so it’s our job to lead the way,” Alicea said. “We need to get excited. That’s how we’re going to win. We need everyone to be positive and ready to play.”

The power of positivity is paying off for Northeast, which is 6–3 in Public League play, but two of the losses are at the hands of first-place Girard Academic Music Program. Other than that, they have just one loss on the year.

This is after having a disappointing 2017 campaign that ended in an early-round playoff loss. For Alicea, the goal is to surpass that mark and go as far as possible in his final year of baseball.

“I think we’re much better this year because we’re playing a lot harder as a team,” said Alicea, who is hitting .535 on the season.

“Things are going very well because of that. We have a lot of good players, but we’re doing it together. If we want to win, we have to do it together. Nobody can do it alone.”

And it’s that attitude that helps make him such an asset to Northeast coach Tom Juhas’ team.

“What does he do for us? What doesn’t he do for us?” Juhas asked. “First, he’s a great player, but more than that he’s a great person. He’s such a good kid. He’s the type of kid, I’ll say it, I’d be proud if he was my kid. He’s just a great kid and a great player.”

For Northeast to go far, Alicea must be great. And he wants to be great because it’s his last chance to bring a championship to Northeast.

But it won’t be his last chance at winning a championship.

Next year, Alicea is headed to East Stroudsburg, where he plans on walking onto the baseball team. And while he’ll work hard doing that, he’ll also work hard in the classroom.

Alicea plans on majoring in exercise science, where he’ll become an athletic trainer.

“I want to be around sports as long as I can,” Alicea said. “That’s always something I’ve been interested in, and I want to stay around sports. When you do that, you can help people and still have fun being around sports.”

Sports has always been a passion for Alicea, who gets the bug from his father, who was a star athlete at Edison.

In fact, Alicea has excelled in other sports, too. And not just the one he’s doing with his friends at Northeast.

“I think one of my favorite sports was flag football because that got me in great shape for baseball,” said Alicea, who played flag football for a church league in North Philadelphia. ‘I had to stop playing this year because I’m too old to be in the league, but that was hard. Everyone was fast, you have to be really fast to play. That got me a lot better for baseball, and it was a lot of fun, too.”

Now he’s hoping the fun continues until he graduates. And the biggest thing that would make his final year fun would be hoisting a Public League championship banner, and then go on to the state playoffs.

“We’re doing better this year because when we have nonleague games, we’re playing the best teams out there,” said Alicea, whose team has done battle with Archbishop Ryan and Father Judge. “Those teams are good. When you play them, you learn things. Even if you’re losing, you have to learn because that’s how you get better.

“We’re playing good teams and I hope that helps us. We could win if we keep learning and keep playing hard. That’s all we have to do.”