Roslyn middle school student selected to represent USA in world games

Roslyn middle school student selected to represent USA in world games
Luca Perna is preparing to represent Team USA in the United World Games. (Courtesy of Luca Perna)

Luca Perna is a local basketball star. Soon to head off to Austria to play in the United World Games, the guy has been playing ball for nearly eight years.

A true competitor, Perna always arrives at venues at least 45 minutes before game time to shoot some hoops. He trains in the gym often, doing both basketball endurance workouts and strength training. And one more thing: He is only 12 years old.

Perna, a Roslyn Middle School student, found out he was going to the United World Games two months ago.

“I was really, really, really excited, because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Perna said.

The United World Games are an annual youth sports tournament held in Europe.

This year’s games will be held in Klagenfurt, Austria on June 19 to June 23. Perna is used to travelling for his sport, though not quite as far.

In fact, he says traveling is one of his favorite things about playing basketball.

“I have tournaments in Detroit and stuff,” Perna said.

The world games aim to bring young students from around the world together to make friendships, build connections and play some awesome games.

Perna has been hard at work, practicing basketball for 12 hours per week the past few years to prepare for the big tournament.

“I’m really a competitive kid,” Perna said.

He might have inherited that competitive streak from his father, who played basketball in his own high school days. Perna says both of his parents have been extremely supportive of his basketball career. “My dad always pushes me to my limit, trying to make me better, and my mom drives me everywhere,” Perna said.

But Perna’s dedication to basketball does not interfere with his commitment to his education. In fact, Perna earned his spot to the games with his grades.

STUDENTathleteWorld selects students from around the country to represent Team USA in global tournaments. The selections rely on the student’s sportsmanship, grades and leadership qualities.

“I take my grades over everything,” said Perna. “Like, say my grades aren’t looking too sharp. Then I take a break from basketball to focus on that.”

While Perna is looking forward to the games this summer, he is also looking toward the future, when he hopes to play basketball overseas for the NBA.

In the meantime, he encourages other kids to shoot for the stars. “Just keep working, and when times are tough, just push through,” said Perna.

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