Former Marauder Olayori signs with Toronto
Zorique Olayori made the most of his 12B year of high school football.
The 18-year-old Niagara Falls resident, who turns 19 in two weeks, played his first three years of high school football at A.N. Myer. After his Grade 12 season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to suit up this fall with Football North, a prep program based out of Clarkson Secondary School in Mississauga.
“I have always been a really competitive person and I wanted to test myself and see who I can compete with and what level I am at,” the 5-foot-11, 190-pound defensive back/running back said. “Football North was a personal thing that I had been thinking about for a long time.”
The Football North team went 3-7 during the season playing against top 100 teams in the United States, including St. Frances Academy from Baltimore, IMG Academy in Florida, Life Christian Academy in Virginia and St. Edwards in Ohio.
“Most of our games were in the States and we travelled to Ohio, Virginia, Baltimore, Florida and Connecticut,” said Olayori, who started out in the Niagara Minor Football peewee house league before playing travel ball with the Niagara Generals and Niagara Spears. “It’s an intense prep program and they get a lot of guys out of there that go D1. Our quarterback just left a few weeks ago to go to Ohio University.”
While playing for Football North, Olayori’s day would begin at 5 a.m. He would drive to school in Mississauga for 7:30 a.m. and then drive back to Niagara after a day of schooling and football practice. The days were long but Olayori, who is now completing his classes online, was glad that concluded his high school career at Football North.
“It was a new experience and definitely difficult at the beginning learning a new game because it was American football,” he said. “I had to make new relationships, start from the bottom and work my way up. But I loved every minute of it and had a great time. I learned a lot and I felt like I really developed.”
Olayori started a few games for Football North and then dislocated his thumb. He played safety and middle linebacker.
“I feel that my football IQ has developed a lot as well as my complete athleticism and aggressiveness. You are going against receivers who are five stars (recruits) and 250-pound running backs and you have be able to come down and be aggressive. You have to put your shoulder down and come at full speed.”
He is now full speed ahead in his football career after recently committing to the University of Toronto, where he plans to study kinesiology. Olayori also had interest from McMaster and the University of British Columbia but the University of Toronto was always at the top of his list.
“The U of T has been a school that I wanted to go to since I was in the 10th Grade. It has been a dream school of mine so I accepted the offer early,” he said. “It is just everything about it and the city. From Niagara, I have always wanted to move to a bigger city and the experience the city life, the culture and the atmosphere.”
His goals for his first year are both optimistic and realistic.
“First year is definitely tough but with my work ethic, I think I can compete going in and even if it is just special teams, I will be happy. I just want be on that sideline for as many games as possible.”
To prepare for his first season, he is working out in the gym twice a day and doing some field work, weather permitting.
Wherever his football career takes him it will be a labour of love.
“I played a lot of sports growing up, but I didn’t really find a sport that I enjoyed until football. I like the aggressiveness, the discipline that it takes to play football, the mental aspect of the game and the mental toughness and dedication you need.”
He also met his two best buddies through football.
“My best friend Daniel (Ferguson) introduced me to football and my best friend James (Prew) I met at my first day of practice ever.”
Prew is already at the U of T for football and Olyari is hoping Ferguson will end up there as well.
Olayori had a number of coaches who were instrumental in his football career, but the three most influential were Myer head coach Dave Buchanan, Niagara Spears coach Nathan Zavarella and Football North defensive coordinator Nick Richards.
“Coach B (Buchanan) has been an important mentor for me and an important part of my football journey. I don’t think I would have wanted to continue playing football after high school if not for him.”
Buchanan is a big fan of his former player.
“Zorique has worked very hard at improving his skills to get to the next level. While at Myer he was a great leader who was dedicated to the process,” he said. “We definitely missed him on the field and, more importantly, as a team member. Once a Marauder, always a Marauder. I’m happy to see him sign with the U of T as it has been one of the long-term goals for Zorique. It’s a great school where he will get to continue with his football journey.”
And while his coaches have been important mentors, his mother, Crystal D’Cunha, has been his biggest supporter since the beginning.
“I remember the days when she would be driving me to my games telling me all these affirmations to say and I thought it was the dumbest thing but looking back on it now I’m so lucky she did that because of how much more focused and dedicated it made me,” he said. “She’s the hardest-working person I know. Seeing her start her own award-winning business from the ground up and work hard every single day is what pushed me to continue to work so hard and stay so focused.
“She’s been the ultimate role model and is the reason I was able to play football at all. There’s nobody I can thank more than her.”
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 3,800 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact email@example.com for more information.