The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Time out! Ep. 8: Maaz Zafar

Following senior Maaz Zafar’s journey playing football
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Maaz Zafar prepares for a play during a game against Lynbrook High School. Photo courtesy of Maaz Zafar | Used with permission

SZ: Hi everyone, my name is Stephanie Zhang, and welcome to Episode 8 of Time Out! In each episode, we will be diving into the sports scene here at MVHS and exploring the journeys of athletes from various sports. In this episode, we are joined by senior Maaz Zafar, who is our current wide receiver on the football team. So, let’s dive more into his football journey! 

SZ: When did you start playing football?

MZ: I started playing flag football in fourth grade, and then I started playing tackle [football] in seventh grade.

SZ: What inspired this change from flag football to tackle football? 

MZ: I really liked the physicality and the tackling aspect of the game and it was really exciting for me, so I always wanted to play tackle.  

SZ: Did anything else influence you to start playing football?

MZ: The people around me and the people that I grew up with, they were always heavy into football and that just made me want to play more.

SZ: Could you expand a little bit more about how your environment growing up influenced you to start playing football?

MZ: Growing up, when I was in Dallas, football was the main sport over there. And when I came here, [football] just stuck with me, and I found people here that also enjoyed playing football, so I continued [playing] with them.

SZ: Have you noticed any major differences in the community and the culture [in] Dallas compared to here in California?

MZ: It’s definitely different. Sports are way more advocated for in Texas, and when I came here, it was a lot more academic-based. But there are still people [who] love the sport the same.

SZ: How have you personally adjusted to this change [from Dallas to Cupertino]?

MZ: For me, it didn’t really change that much. I always loved playing football no matter who it was with, so it could be with the guys in Dallas or it could be people here in Cupertino.

SZ: Have your parents impacted your football career at all?

MZ: At first, they didn’t even know that I was playing football when I joined [the team in] high school because they never really wanted me to play. But as I grew older, they saw what a big impact it had on my life, [so] they decided to start supporting me and watching my games.

SZ: When you were growing up, did they sign you up for football classes or did you? 

MZ: No, it was me. I was always playing football after school and signing myself up for leagues on websites.

SZ: Were there any other reasons why you decided to start playing football?

MZ: No, I just thought that it was exciting, and growing up watching NFL and college [football], I always idolized those guys and wanted to be in their shoes when I was older.

SZ: Do you have a favorite NFL player? 

MZ: Growing up, the person I watched the most was Odell Beckham Jr. He influenced me a lot growing up.

SZ: What teams did he play on and why did he have such a big impact on you?

MZ: He played for the New York Giants, the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Rams. The reason he had such a big impact on me was because of the influence he had with all of his moves and the way he played the game; I could relate to and I always wanted to model myself after him.

SZ: Do you feel that football has impacted your life at all?

MZ: Definitely. Throughout high school, I usually hang out with people on the team, and most of my friends are on the football team and they’re just the people that I’ve grown up with.

SZ: Do you feel like, as a whole, football has impacted you in a more positive way? 

MZ: Yeah, definitely. I’d be in a completely different spot if it weren’t for this sport, and I’m grateful that I started playing. 

SZ: Without football, where do you think you would be right now?

MZ: Without football, it would be a completely different story. I wouldn’t have a lot of the characteristics that I have, and I feel like I would have been a completely different person. I wouldn’t have been as competitive and probably [not] as outgoing as I am right now.

SZ: Do you think that this competitiveness has come into play in other aspects of your life?

MZ: Yeah, even for school, with anything that we’re doing in class, I’ve always been trying to be first just because of the characteristics that football has instilled in me.

SZ: Do you have any favorite moments with football?

MZ: Last year, my junior year, when we came back from down 22 at [halftime] from Saratoga. That was a really meaningful game for me because I knew the guys at Saratoga, and it was a game where I was playing against all my friends that I’d grown up with playing and that was a really impactful game.

SZ: Do you have a most memorable moment with football?

MZ: Last year senior night when I had to say goodbye and play my last game with all the seniors against our rival, Cupertino [High School]. That was probably the most memorable moment I had.

SZ: Did you guys win in the game against Cupertino?

MZ: We won by a lot, and if we didn’t have some people [on our team] that got hurt, we would’ve blown them out.

SZ: Why do you think that that was your most memorable moment? Was it just because you were with all of your friends or was there another reason?

MZ: The last game of the season is always emotional, but that game just had everything. It was our last game, it was against our rival and everyone was out there from all the schools because it was on Thursday so nobody had a game. So it was just everything bundled up in one.

SZ: Although we have just started your final season of football here in high school, how do you feel going into it?

MZ: I’m looking at it one game at a time. I just came back from an injury, so I’m still getting used to the game again. I’m not really thinking about playing my last year. I’m just focusing on one day at a time, one practice at a time.

SZ: Could you talk a little bit more about your injury, like how it happened?

MZ: It was during a scrimmage against Fremont. I went up for a ball, I got hit midair and landed on both of my knees and I ended up dislocating both of them. I was supposed to be out for six to eight weeks, but luckily I came back in five and was able to start the season.

SZ: As a whole, are you very excited for this final season?

MZ: Definitely. With the team that we have this year and the players that we have, I’m confident and I’m really excited to just keep playing.

SZ: Have you ever thought about quitting football?

MZ: There were times when it got hard and I’d think about what my life would be like without football, but quitting was never really an option for me.

SZ: How do you deal with the pressure of being so committed to football?

MZ: I try not to let it faze me because again, it is a big part of my life, but I think of it as just a game because it is a kid’s game, and I don’t really think of it as a chore, so there’s not really too much pressure there.

SZ: Were there any moments where you felt that the pressure that you were facing either from your teammates or from your coaches was just too much for you?

MZ: There’s been moments where it would all build up but then, you just have to tell yourself that, again, it is just a game. Obviously, it’s the game that you work so hard for, but it’s a kid’s game and you’ve just got to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. 

SZ: As a whole, how do you think that the team is going to play this season?

MZ: If we fix up one or two really small things, I honestly think that we can contend for a lot of things because, with the team that we have and the chemistry that we have, this is one of our best teams we’ve had in recent memory.

SZ: What are you guys hoping to achieve this season?

MZ: We want to be able to have a winning record and we want to play in playoffs because we haven’t done [that] at Monta Vista for a long time. And, always, the most important goal for the season is to beat Cupertino [High School]. 

SZ: Do you have any plans to pursue football beyond just a high school career?

MZ: That’s the goal. I’m talking to a few colleges, but nothing serious. But we’ll see as the season progresses.

SZ: That’s it for Episode 8 of Time Out! Thank you so much Maaz for talking with me. I’m Stephanie, and thanks for tuning in! 

About the Contributor
Stephanie Zhang, Staff Writer
Stephanie is currently a junior. In her free time, she enjoys listening to her many playlists, binge-watching entire shows at once and spending time with her friends and family.
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