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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Patience Leads Zurat to Canisius

On April 3rd the University of Buffalo announced that four sports teams would be dropped at the end of the 2016-17 school year. UB President Satish K. Tripathi said that the school could not afford to keep 20 “competitive” Division I athletic teams.

The four sports effected are men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, women’s rowing and the Men’s baseball team. The news came as a shock to students, athletes, coaches and the local community.

The impact on all of the players and coaches stretched far beyond Amherst as those effected took to social media to voice their displeasure with the UB’s decision.

One athlete that was directly affected was Jake Zurat, a senior at Williamsville North high-school. Just weeks earlier he signed a letter of intent to play baseball next season for the Bulls. “It was tough news when the program was cut” Zurat said. “Everything in my mind went just running around and it was very confusing”.

A catcher who hit on the plus side of .400 and appeared in all 15 games this season, quickly found himself without a home. “Immediately I was confused and didn’t know what to do. However I knew I had to stay positive and things would come.”

Zurat has proved throughout his varsity sports career to be a pretty cool cat. This past March he helped the Spartans capture their 5th Large school state ice hockey championship as the starting goaltender.

The fallout from UB’s decision to cut baseball weighed heavily but Zurat refused to let that define him. “I wasn’t worried because I knew spots were open and I have had good relationships with other coaches besides UB. It was a weird experience, I never thought I would have to go through another recruiting process.”

Over the course of the next few weeks it was back to the drawing board for Jake. Feelers went out, interest came back but a difficult decision was back in his lap. “I loved everything about UB. From the amazing coaches to the beautiful campus, I thought it was a good fit. Also I got to stay close to home. But playing baseball at the next level was always my goal. I worked very hard the last couple years to make this dream become a reality.”

Even with the pressure of having to find a new school, Zurat had to focus on his studies and the spring baseball season. He was able to balance his off the field business and play at a high level.

In the end, he chose Canisius College. “I’m very excited for Canisius, it’s a good fit for both baseball and academics. It does help that one of my best friends, Mike Steffan (Williamsville East ’17) is going there too. I have moved on from the whole experience and can’t wait to get to work at Canisius.

The Spartans finished 10-4 in ECIC I division and will play Niagara Falls Monday at home in the first round of the playoff’s.

photo credit Neil Stafford

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