BELOIT - The competitive streak that borders on crossing the line. The natural instinct to protect others. And, yes, the chip on the shoulder.
All of those things are signature Sereno Ferone, and the Beloit Turner senior inherited them directly from a man he doesn't remember.
Ferone's father David was tragically killed at age 21 in an auto accident on May 30, 2002, when Sereno was just two years old.
But just because he doesn't have vivid recollections of the man to rely on in tough times doesn't mean he feels alone.
"I constantly can feel his presence," Ferone said. "Whenever I have success, the first thing I think about is how I know he's with me, and that I have someone that is watching over me and keeping me safe."
Ferone's grandmother on his father's side is often drawing comparisons between the two men.
"She talks about him the most," Ferone said. "She tells me how we're so much alike in some ways, but different as well. He never took anyone's crap. He stood up for himself, and I've got good stories about him and how he was always there for my family."
Ferone has keepsakes all around him that keep his father in his thoughts.
"I've got a key chain-type thing in my car with his likeness on it," Ferone said. "And then on my key chain, I've got something that used to be his. In my room, I've got a bunch of pictures of him, so he's always around me."
The funny thing is, had David been around for Sereno's childhood, sports might not have become his passion.
"I have moments when I think about how my life would be if he was still alive," Ferone said. "Maybe I wouldn't even be in sports, because he only played them in middle school. He was way more into music, and that's how my older brother is, too.
"The guy who actually got me into sports was my step-dad at the time. He treated me just like I was his own kid. When my mom and him split when I was about 10, that was another really hard thing to deal with."
On the court, Ferone is the guy opponents love to hate.
Generously listed at 5-foot-9, the three-sport standout carries a chip on his shoulder that's nearly as big.
He plays each sport with supreme confidence. He's not afraid to get in the ear of opponents when he's feeling particularly chipper. And even referees have been known to get an earful.
"I've always been a competitor," Ferone said. "With our basketball team this year, I feel like we needed something that gave us a little lift. And the other team, if they see me chirping, they might shift their focus on that instead of the game. I love this team, and if I see someone getting pushed around or something, I'll say something."
"My whole life I've been the underdog," Ferone said. "I've been smaller than everyone else. , but I've got a bigger heart than anyone else, and that's why I play harder. I don't necessarily look at someone like 'Wow, that guy's big. He looks tough.' I just would rather be the one to guard him instead."
The flip side of the coin? He plays with supreme effort. He's a tremendous leader. And his athleticism is off the charts.
Ferone is averaging 10.8 points per game to go along with 5.6 rebounds, second on the team despite his vertical challenges. He also mixes in 3.1 assists and a team-high 2,2 steals per game.
Turner opens WIAA Division 3 regional play Tuesday night at home against Shoreland Lutheran. The Trojans, a six-seed, have had a solid season despite missing two scorers who combined for nearly 50 points last year.
Ferone feels like his team is in a good spot.
"The season has been a roller coaster for us," Ferone said. "Some things I expected to happen, some things I didn't. But that's how every team has been this year. It's been crazy for everyone. Right now, we're just focusing on our next game because we want to keep playing."