Springfield star uses wish to help community
Cosmos alumnus and current Castleton Spartan Noah Zierfus is recovering from cancer and finding a way to help others.
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Springfield’s Noah Zierfus didn’t have the easiest childhood, moving from Wisconsin to his mother’s hometown while he was in elementary school.
“It wasn’t easy making new friends, like in the classroom-wise.”, said Noah.
“He had a very difficult time with the move and a very difficult three years after we got back.”, added his mother, Sarah.
But things turned around as Noah became involved in sports. He spent most of his free time at Riverside Park and he thrived on and off the field and court.
“Most of my friends are from sports teams that I’ve been on throughout the years. The brotherhood you get from a sports team made it really easy for me to get friends.”, said Noah.
“When I started working here, he was just an elementary school kid. Over the years I got to watch Noah develop into a mature young man who has been phenomenal working with the younger youth in Springfield.” said Keith Eno, Springfield Parks & Recreation Assistant Director.
“Whenever he was upset or had something going on, he would always come play football or basketball or go to the pool and it would calm him down. It would bring him back to his center.”, added Sarah.
Noah went on to excel for the Cosmos hoops and football teams. His first love was basketball, but his college future was on the gridiron.
“I was looking around, mostly for basketball in the beginning, but then my football coach was like you just need to keep an open head, because if someone offers you it, you should take it.”, said Noah.
“He’s a hoop kid but the way things laid out in front of him were that he probably had a better opportunity to play at the next level in football.”, said Springfield High School head football coach Todd Aiken.
Enter Castleton, who offered Noah a spot on their roster.
“As we’ve said from day 1, we want to make the recruitment of Vermont high school football players a priority. It started with just a school visit, we stayed in contact, and he decided that this is where he wanted to be.”, said Castleton head coach Tony Volpone.
But Noah never got the chance to suit up for the Spartans as a freshman. The 2020 campaign ended up being wiped out due to COVID, and Zierfus had his own health crisis developing.
“I got like a thing checked out in January of 2019, and they said it was like a cyst. And then I got it checked out again and they said the same thing. I went back again one more time and as soon as I got home we got the call that I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.”, said Noah.
“You never think your child’s gonna get sick. You always want the best for them and him getting sick, it turned our world upside down.”, said Sarah.
“Basically just crying and trying to just hug each other and stuff like that at first. But as it went on, it got easier for me mentally. I just tried to keep a good mindset through the whole thing.”, added Noah.
Noah underwent three surgeries and a round of chemo, all the while, doing whatever he could to get back in game shape.
“There was really no plan. It was more of I’m gonna just do whatever doesn’t hurt. Workouts for football really helped gain my strength. If I didn’t have football, I wouldn’t be at the point where I am right now.”, said Noah.
“I asked multiple times, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ He was here and he was an inspiration to all of us. And I asked him to speak to the team and have guys understand how lucky they are. He did a great job with it.”, added Volpone.
While Noah was undergoing treatment, a member of his family reached out to Make a Wish Vermont. Noah knew he wanted to use his wish on something sports-related, but COVID restrictions narrowed his options. So rather than going for a day with a pro team or famous athlete, he opted to give back to the community, specifically with some renovations at Riverside Park.
“The community like gave back to me a lot, and I love playing basketball here. So I thought it was a good idea to redo the court here.”, said Noah.
“Those courts were built in the mid to late 70s. We’ve done crack filling on them before, but they really needed more. But it’s just whatever fits your budget in situations like ours. With this project that has taken hold thanks to Noah, they’re gonna be doing an overlay of the courts and repainting and it’s gonna be a far far greater project than anything I was envisioning. That’s for sure.”, said Andy Bladyka, Springfield Parks & Recreation Director.
“I cried. Which is not hard to do. I thought it was amazing, I’ve always known he was a very good child even at his worst moments. I knew he had a big heart, but I think this just proves it.”, said Sarah.
“I don’t think he fully realizes that what he is giving back to this town is way more than what he ever received from this town. He was thinking about everybody but himself in a moment where he should have been thinking about himself. But because it’s Noah, he never does.”, said Eno.
The construction is already underway, with the hoops removed from their moorings so the resurfacing work can begin. And soon, the next generation of kids in town will have a beautiful new court, all thanks to the generosity of one of their own.
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