When you're in high school, you imagine playing at the next level and your name being called in the starting lineups with the roar of the crowd behind you. For some, this won't ever happen, but for Peter Vallese Jr., he got to live this experience, just 76 years after he expected.

The surprise of a lifetime, or better yet a surprise that took a lifetime. As a member of SUNY Broome's first-ever graduating class, Peter Vallese Jr. jumped at the chance to be at the school's alumni reunion.

"First he says, you know, the reunion's coming up, I'd like to go," Janice Cornell, daughter of Vallese said. "I go like oh okay and then once they found out that he is one of the first students to graduate from here, they're just like, wow, this is really something."

Once there, the Class of 1949 graduate explained why he never got a suit-up for the men's basketball team 76 years ago.

"He was cut in order to give that fifth spot to a veteran who had returned from service," said Cathy Williams, Executive Director of the SUNY Broome Foundation. "And because the school was focused on providing education for veterans, he gave up his spot."

A selfless act from the then-teenager, but one he wishes he hadn't had to make.

"That was a traumatic experience for him and something that he had a lot of sadness about over the course of his life," Williams said.

Then the SUNY Broome foundation knew exactly what they had to do.

"To open up with the story about not really being able to play on the team at that time," Cornell said. "This is like a dream come true."

So in between the women's and men's games on Sunday, Vallese finally got to hear his name ring over throughout the gym.

"The sixth man off the bench, who's been waiting 76 years to be announced as a member of the State Tech, SUNY Broome men's basketball team, let's hear it for Peter Vallese," the P.A. blurted. 

Longer than he expected, but still worth the wait.

"I couldn't put it in words. It's fantastic," Vallese said. "Very honored to represent my school."

On top of being called, Peter was given his #12 State Tech jersey and...

"SUNY Broome Community College proudly recognizes you as an honorary lifetime member of this SUNY Broome men's basketball team dated January 22, 2023," Williams said in front of the crowd.

A secret long in the making, but when you have as much experience as this Hornet, not much gets by you.

"I noticed something suspicious when everyone was going to the game," Vallese joked.

And it means even more when you're surrounded by 30 family members.

"To be, well 95 in a few months, and to see what he accomplished and how people will remember him by will be a big part of his life," Vallese said.

And with a Hornets' win, a graduate of Vestal and the Golden Bears' top rebounder back in the day was impressed.

"That team is very fast," Vallese said. "It's not the same as when I was still a student."

Vallese returns to his farm in Endicott always thankful for his family and from everyone here at Fox 40, congratulations.