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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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Nonnewaugs Ellie McDonald dribbles the ball during a game last season. McDonalds nickname is Smellie -- one of many Chief names that exist on the girls soccer team. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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Freshman Josh Zapatka Passes Varsity Soccer Test

Nonnewaug freshman Josh Zapatka moves the ball against Northwestern on Sept. 12. (Courtesy of Nonnewaug boys soccer/Facebook)

WOODBURY — The name Josh Zapatka may ring a bell for some students at Nonnewaug, but why? The freshman who arrived at Nonnewaug ready to start on the boys soccer team shocked many — including Chiefs coach Toby Denman — with his skills on the field. 

“I had some preconceived notions on who might go where and all of that, and I did not expect this freshman to show up and prove that in the first few days that he needed to be on the field,” explained Denman.

Teammates Lincoln Nichols, a junior, and Cameron Packett, a freshman, thought Zapatka was a good fit for the varsity team.

“I was always hesitant about having a freshman on varsity, but I think that if they are deserving and confident in their abilities, then they should be there,” Nichols said. 

“[Zapatka being on varsity] can help other freshmen’s work ethic in practice,” Packett says. “It’s a competition for other freshmen and upperclassmen to work harder and really shows that a freshman can start.”

Being on varsity is a big deal for any athlete, especially as a freshman. 

“It’s an accomplishment,” Zapatka said. “It’s pretty cool that Denman trusted me to start and support the team.”

Because of Zapatka’s previous soccer experience, Denman thought he could deal with the varsity pressure right away.

“Josh has played some higher level soccer in the offseason with his club team, and even though he is a freshman, he might have more soccer experience then some of the others in the program,” Denman said.

Zapatka also thinks that some other players helped him get the varsity spot.  

Josh Zapatka falls off of his chair in English class. (Max Nichols)

“In summer captains’ practice, [Azem Frangu and Durkin Stankievich] would help me improve on everything I could, my touches, my passes, my shot,” Zapatka said. “He was always there supporting me.”

Many know that Zapatka was on varsity, but some don’t know much about him otherwise. 

“He is a funny guy and everyone likes him on the team — good-looking guy, by the way,” Nichols said. “He will try hard in drills. In practice, he will always give 100%. I respect him as a freshman.” 

One of Zapatka’s new friends at Nonnewaug, freshman Ethan Butkus, reflects on the experiences he has enjoyed so far with Zapatka. 

“Josh is a great person and we’ve had a lot of great experiences hanging out together,” Butkus says. “One time we made a makeshift pond that ended up not working because we didn’t make it good enough. We’ve had a lot of good times.”

About the Contributor
Grayson Leveille '27
Gray Leveille is a freshman at Nonnewaug High School. He writes for the NHS Chief Advocate as a sports reporter. He likes to write about sports and the school.
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