On Feb. 2, otherwise known to football junkies as National Letter of Intent Day, Buonavolonta became a member of the Youngstown State football program. The small, yet speedy senior had a great year as a running back and defensive back for the Spartans and will now get to display his athleticism to an even larger fan base at Stambaugh Stadium on fall Saturdays. Being close to home is one of the main reasons why Buonavolonta is happy to be a Penguin.
“I’m very excited because YSU is the local school,” said Buonavolonta at a press conference Wednesday in front of the Boardman gymnasium. “My family will get to see me play. It is like a big family there.”
Nick’s mother Gina shares her son’s enthusiasm for staying only a short drive from Boardman.
“Being close to home makes it so nice,” said Gina who was joined at the press conference by Nick’s dad Vito. “(YSU) is exactly like (Boardman) in that it is such a family atmosphere. I am very proud (of Nick).”
Bringing that family vibe to the college on the corner of Lincoln Avenue was one of the first priorities of second year YSU head coach Eric Wolford. The passion Wolford has for recruiting area athletes is turning YSU into a hot spot for local high school stars. Once Buonavolonta visited the campus and talked with his potential head coach he realized that he also had that same desire.
“I like coach Wolford a lot,” Buonavolonta said. “All of the coaches were great. The facilities were great. It will mean a lot to have the community support.”
Support is something this soon-to-be former Spartan is very accustomed to. Friday night at Spartan Stadium is like a weekly holiday and Spartan Nation never has trouble backing their heroes. Buonavolonta appreciated all of that backing and hopes to bring with him to college the great inner qualities he developed at Boardman.
“I want to give thanks to everyone in Boardman,” Buonavolonta said humbly. “Boardman will always be special in my heart. It instilled a work ethic in me and pushed me to go forward.”
Nick always seemed to go forward when he was playing running back, but it will be as a defensive back where the two time All-Federal League honoree will make his mark for the Penguins. Although Nick stands just five-foot-nine and weighs less than 190 pounds, he is tough enough and certainly fast enough to make an impact soon at YSU.
“We already talked about me coming in and playing special teams,” he said. “I may be an undersized defensive back, but my speed and work ethic puts me ahead. Speed is my best attribute.”
Nick’s nifty feet may be a special trait, but it is something above his shoulders that sets him apart from other athletes. Buonavolonta is a very good student and will use his brain to help him earn a major in accounting and a minor in finance. When Buonavolonta was playing running back he learned to see the whole field better and he used that knowledge when he was stationed at defensive back. Nick not only has great vision on the gridiron, but he also sees the big picture beyond football.
“My schoolwork is very important to me,” he said honestly.
Still, Buonavolonta doesn’t mind throwing his body into a would be ball carrier or receiver every so often.
“I like to hit people and tackle,” he said with a gleam in his eyes.
Buonavolonta was already a big hit on the campus at Boardman, now he will get a chance to be even a bigger hit on the campus of Youngstown State.
Photo by Nik Zirounis, Town Crier correspondent
Boardman’s Nick Buonavolonta is joined by parents Vito and Gina, along with his coach as he gave a commitment to play for YSU this fall.