Fox Chapel basketball star Eli Yofan trades his soccer cleats for golf clubs

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Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 10:08 PM


Throughout the winter months, Fox Chapel junior Eli Yofan made a name for himself on the basketball court as he led the Foxes to an almost perfect regular season and a WPIAL Section 3-6A championship.

It came just a few months after Yofan played a big role in the Fox Chapel boys soccer team reaching the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals and recording an overall record of 12-4-5.

But as Yofan tees up his junior year, he isn’t kicking soccer balls anymore. Instead, he picked up his clubs and joined the Fox Chapel golf team, the defending PIAA and WPIAL Class AAA team champions.

“My goal in the next couple of years is hopefully to play basketball in college and that’s what I want to do,” Yofan said. “So, realistically, it didn’t make sense for me to play soccer because there was a risk that I could get injured as well as not having enough time to work on basketball. (Fox Chapel golf coach Bryan Deal) gave me the flexibility with golf.”

Yofan isn’t just randomly picking up a golf bag. The talented junior has been playing since he was about 7, and even though he didn’t play on the Fox Chapel team, he never really put down his clubs. He just didn’t really play consistently.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Gyms were closed, and there wasn’t really much Yofan could do in terms of training for basketball. He tried to get shots up in his driveway but also wanted to find other ways to stay active. So, he started playing a lot of golf.

“Literally, the only thing that was open was golf courses, so I started playing a lot of golf,” Yofan said. “I started playing about five times a week, and I got pretty decent at it. So, I reached out to Coach Deal and he was all for me coming onto the team.”

After winning the PIAA and WPIAL Class AAA team championships last season, the Fox Chapel golf team had to replace five or six seniors that started on a regular basis, including WPIAL Class AAA individual champion Scott Bitar. Lehigh recruit Aidan Oehrle was the only consistent starter returning from last season.

So far, Yofan has fit in seamlessly with the Foxes’ plan to defend both of their titles. In Fox Chapel’s first match of the season against Hampton and Knoch, Yofan came through and fired a 1-over 37 at Pittsburgh Field Club that tied teammate Owen Delaney for a team-low score.

Then, just a few days later, in a match against Kiski Area and Shady Side Academy, again at Pittsburgh Field Club, Yofan went out and fired a 39, but Shady Side Academy took home the victory.

“The 37 was solid and the 39 was decent too, so that was a little disappointing,” Yofan said. “But I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m happy with our success so far.”

While Yofan has been playing well on the course, his recruitment is starting to heat up on the basketball court as well. Although they only played in one tournament during the summer, Yofan played with Wildcats Select, which includes top-tier basketball players like Isaac McKneely and Rodney Gallagher.

The team had an open run live stream earlier this summer that allowed college coaches to watch players like Yofan and Gallagher play. Since then, Yofan said his recruitment has started to pick up and he’s started hearing from schools like Penn, Belmont, Liberty, Dartmouth, Brown, Lehigh, Miami (Ohio), Drexel and others. But Yofan still hasn’t received offers.

Now, he’s looking forward to putting in the work on the hardwood in order to accomplish his dream of playing basketball at the next level.

“I work out three or four times a week with my personal trainer and I’m just looking to get the ball in my hands as much as I can,” Yofan said. “That’s the goal for right now.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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