Valley News Dispatch Boys Athlete of the Year: Eli Yofan, Fox Chapel

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Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 8:09 PM


Eli Yofan made the most of his athletic opportunities during the 2020-21 school year.

The rising senior at Fox Chapel performed at a high level while helping navigate his teammates through seasons of covid restrictions and other related uncertainties.

An all-section selection in soccer as a sophomore, Yofan made the switch to golf last fall and was a key cog in the Foxes’ run to a WPIAL Class AAA team runner-up finish.

He also placed 14th at the WPIAL individual tournament with a round of 78, just two strokes away from a trip to states.

On the basketball court, the 6-foot-3 guard was among the best in the WPIAL as he averaged 22.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.7 steals for Fox Chapel, which finished 20-3, won the Section 3-6A title and advanced to the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals.

He shot 47% from 3-point range (36 of 77) and scored his 1,000th point in the Foxes’ quarterfinal win over North Allegheny. He has college basketball offers from Pitt-Johnstown and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Eli was such a catalyst at both ends of the floor,” Fox Chapel boys basketball coach Zach Skrinjar said.

“Having that starting experience, now three years, we really relied on him, and he delivered in so many ways. His teammates did a good job of getting him involved as much as possible and he, in turn, did all that he could to get them involved to be successful.”

Yofan’s athletic exploits didn’t die down after basketball as he made his mark on the boys volleyball team. He earned All-WPIAL Class AAA honors as a right-side hitter.

The Foxes, the No. 7 seed for the WPIAL tournament, gave eventual runner-up Seneca Valley, the No. 2 seed, all it could handle before losing in three sets in the quarterfinals.

“(Eli) is a generational talent for this school,” Skrinjar said. “I am convinced that in any sport, he would pick it up within 10 minutes and would be one of the better ones at it with his God-given natural athletic ability. It is really fun to watch.”

With the covid quartantine last summer and the limited things you were able to do athletically, how were you able to prepare for your seasons?

One of the things I was able to do a lot of was play golf. Golf courses were one of the only things that were open from May to July or so. I would also shoot a lot of basketball in my driveway. I think they went a long way in helping me get ready for both sports.

Were you happy with your decision to transition away from soccer to golf?

I loved playing soccer, but I really didn’t want to risk getting hurt before basketball. Chances are I am not going to get hurt playing golf. Golf also gave me more time and flexibility to focus on preparing for the basketball season.

Do you appreciate some of the elements of individuality that often comes with golf?

Yes. It’s a change of pace from the team sports. I love to be able to take control over my game on the course. There is that team aspect, but within that, it’s just you against the course. Golf is very mental, and you have to stay focused.

What do you remember most about your junior basketball season, which ended with 20 victories and a trip to the WPIAL semifinals?

It was, I’d say, the opportunity to play and bond with some special guys on and off the court. It was just a great year for us. Some of us have been playing together since third grade. Chemistry was a big thing. We all knew where each other was going to be (on the court) and what was going to happen. It all helped the offense explode.

What leads to the smooth transition from basketball in the winter to volleyball in the spring?

Volleyball really complements with basketball. You’re always moving, jumping, changing directions. They both fit my athletic style really well in similar ways.

Were you satisfied with how the volleyball season turned out?

I was pretty satisfied with what we were able to do. According to some preseason rankings or whatever, we weren’t supposed to go as far as we did. We lost the first set in that WPIAL quarterfinals game, and we were up the whole game. We lost 28-26 and went on to lose 3-0. If we win that first game, I think it’s a totally different match, and maybe we go to the semifinals. Who knows? It was a great season, and I had a lot of fun.

With your success in soccer, golf, basketball and volleyball at the high school level, if you could give another sport a try, what would it be, and why?

Baseball. I played for almost my whole life and quit in eighth grade. It was one of my favorite sports. I honestly just wanted to try something new, and my older sister played volleyball.

What is your over-the-summer outlook for your senior seasons?

We have four seniors back for basketball and eight seniors for golf, and I can see us having a good shot and going after those titles. I think for volleyball, we lose some really good seniors, but I think we can come together and be good again. It’s my last year of high school with my teammates and my friends. I just want to perform well and hopefully bring home a couple of championships.

What is keeping you busy this summer?

Golf, mostly basketball, and I also caddy at Oakmont Country Club. It’s a combination of all three. I am always doing something. With AAU starting back up, July is pretty big for that.

Who are you pulling for in the NBA finals?

Honestly, I am not a big NBA fan. For me, it’s more college basketball. But my friend loves the Suns. He’s loved them for probably five years. And I love Chris Paul. I think he deserves a ring. I am going to go with the Suns.

What college team do you follow most often?

I actually follow Pitt a lot. They are close, and they are in the ACC. I love the teams in the ACC. It’s just good basketball.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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