On Feb. 2 in coach Phil Annarella’s office at the school, Zaborsky at last made that decision official. When Zaborsky, flanked by his dad and mom, signed his letter of intent it ended months of anticipation.
“It feels so great,” Zaborsky announced. “I finally get to say I’m part of YSU. All of my hard work has paid off. It is very rewarding.”
The most rewarding part for Zaborsky is that he will get to stay a short drive from Austintown.
“It feels great to play so close to home,” said the senior. “I met a lot of other (local) recruits at YSU and it just feels like a family.”
The head of that family is second year head coach Eric Wolford who has made recruiting local talent a top priority. With the help of Zaborsky and the other area athletes, players who are coming from another state to play in Youngstown will feel like part of the family too.
“I want to try and take a leadership role,” said Zaborsky. “I want to be a leader to the kids who come from out of town.”
Steve’s father Jeff sides with his son when it comes to mentoring out of area student athletes.
“We will like to support out of town kids,” Jeff insisted. “We want to assure their parents that we are looking out for them. Even if it means just getting them a home-cooked meal.”
A major reason why both son and father feel that sense of family is because that is exactly the way the people at YSU treated them on their recruiting visits.
“Everyone welcomes you at YSU,” Steve said.
Added Jeff, “When we went for our official visit it was a very cold Saturday. One of the coldest days (on record). Yet there was (YSU president) Dr. (Cynthia) Anderson there to greet us. The coaches are great too. I’d put these coaches against any coaches from any Division I school. They made this choice easy.”
Making the choice easier was that Steve’s mom, Fiapule, would be able to see him play more often at YSU than if he was to leave for college. Fiapule is a proud of her Samoan heritage, which is built strongly on the bond a family has, so she was excited to see her son sign on at YSU.
“I am happy he will be so close,” she said. “To play at the local college is special.”
Besides, maybe mom will get Steve some of that delicious Polynesian food in order to bulk him up a bit.
“The Samoan people like to eat,” said Steve laughing.
Perhaps some Samoan eating habits can help Steve in a positive way. Right now, Zaborsky checks in at six-feet, three inches and 238 pounds, but in order to anchor the defensive line at YSU like he did at Fitch, he will have to pump up a bit.
“I want to walk in at 245 pounds,” Zaborsky said. “I want to keep up my speed too.”
Size may be the only adaption Zaborsky may have to make at the college level because system wise the Penguins and Falcons are not far apart.
“YSU plays a 4-3 like we did at Fitch,” Zaborsky explained. “They try to be gap sound like Fitch too. I’m sure there will be more in-depth game schemes at YSU, but it shouldn’t be too different.”
There is a huge difference, however, in Zaborsky now than there was four years ago. When freshman Zaborsky walked onto his first high school practice field he was a skinny, 180-pound wide receiver. Through oodles of hard work, the All-Federal League selection became a pillar on Fitch’s interior lines. That same amount of determination has dictated Zaborsky’s life inside the classroom as well. Steve is Academic All-American and carries a 3.8 grade point average. He will study mechanical engineering in college proving that he is as much brains as he is brawn. All one has to do is talk to this level-headed teenager for five minutes to realize he is not your average jock. That intellect has allowed Zaborsky to have a clear vision for what he wants to do in his life. He also envisions great things for his new team and wants anyone who is about to go through the same recruiting process that he did to keep an eye on the Penguin program.
“Don’t overlook YSU,” said Zaborsky enthusiastically. “Check out YSU, you would be surprised. Look for something to happen in the next couple of years.”
The best thing that may have happened to Youngstown State on National Letter of Intent Day was welcoming a certain defensive end from Austintown Fitch into its family.
Photo by Nik Zirounis, Town Crier correspondent
Steve Zaborsky was joined by his parents Jeff and Fiapule Zaborsky on Jan. 2 as the Fitch standout signed his letter of intent to play for the YSU Penguins this fall.