While the football season is coming to a close, UR is not giving up just yet — particularly senior wide receiver R.J. Napodano. As a neuroscience major who plans to go to medical school, Napodano is no stranger to hard work both on and off the field. After an exciting win against Worchester Polytechnic Institute, Napodano contributed to the upset of No. 20 ranked Alfred University with a touchdown in the third quarter, as well as beating Alfred’s defense with UR’s wildcat offense.
A native to Rochester, Napodano has continued his football career up the road from his high school, McQuaid Jesuit. As a sophomore and a junior he led the team in punt return yardage, while also leading in kick return yardage last year. This year, Napodano reflected on his beginnings in football and his hopes for a strong rest of the season.
How did you get started in football?
I’ve played ever since I was really young; I started out probably at 8 years old. I’ve always played through high school … and it has just always been an interest of mine. I’ve always liked it so that’s why I continued to play here at UR.
How did you become a receiver?
Actually I was always a running back in high school. My first year here I was a running back/receiver. … Then I basically moved to receiver this year because we already have a very good running back. So it was more helpful for the team to have both of us on the field.
I hear that you also played baseball in high school. Why did you choose football over baseball?
I think playing two sports, especially in a school like this, would have been very, very hard. And I have more love for football so that pretty much made it an easy decision.
What was your proudest moment this season?
Probably last week when we beat Alfred.
What was the feeling after you scored a touchdown during that game?
It was awesome. I was really happy that I was able to help us out and help us to beat Alfred.
What’s your favorite part of a game?
My favorite part of a game … that’s an interesting question. There are lots of awesome parts of a game, but I think the best part of a game is right before a kick-off, when you are getting ready. It’s a feeling that you don’t normally get from any other sport or any other situation.
I know you contribute to the wildcat offense. Is it successful and why?
Yeah I think it’s really successful for a lot of reasons. I guess it’s just a formation that has become popular — it started maybe three years ago, now teams in the NFL and the NCAA and high school are starting to use it. It gives an opportunity for athletes to get the ball in their hands and to just make it happen.
What’s your inspiration for football or during games?
I would say [I’m inspired] just because I have an unusual opportunity to play here, at a higher level besides high school. There are a lot of people who don’t get that opportunity, so I just try to make the most of it.
Although this season is coming to a close, do you have any individual goals for this season?
Yeah. Well, my goal was to try to win the Liberty League but that’s obviously not going to happen. So I would say to just finish off the rest of the year as best as I’m able to.
How do you think the team will do against St. Lawrence University?
I think we’ll do really well. We just beat WPI and a really good Alfred team, so we have a lot of momentum going into the St. Lawrence game. It’s a huge game for us because if they win, they win the Liberty League, and we don’t want that to happen.
How do you feel the team has grown this year?
I think we’ve learned how to handle adversity very well. Obviously we didn’t think this season would go how it did. I think it’s definitely allowed the freshmen and sophomores to get more mature and hopefully that’ll help them out for next year.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave after this season?
I just want to be known as somebody who always played hard and gave it everything he had. I think most of the people on my team would be able to say that about me.
Olfano is a member of
the class of 2012.