Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Norwin’s Rick Zappone

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Monday, September 18, 2023 | 10:53 AM


While a loss isn’t exactly the way any team wants to end the year, losing to the eventual champion always helps shake that bad feeling off a little.

This was the case for Norwin’s boys soccer team, which fell to Pine-Richland in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs last season.

Center back Rick Zappone said that loss reenergized the team going into and out of the offseason.

“It definitely gave us more energy,” Zappone said. “Especially for the senior class because we really don’t want to go out that way again.”

The response has fallen right in line with that, as the Knights got off to a 5-1 start, 4-0 in the section.

Zappone converted to center back this year after playing a midfielder/forward role for the Knights last season.

As far as team goals go for his final run in high school, Zappone first addressed the near future, then hinted a little bit further down the line.

“Our focus is always on the next game,” Zappone said.

“But the overall goal is to win the section.”

An offseason change that doesn’t involve the players came on the coaching staff.

Three new assistant coaches — Dave Kozak, Matt Henry and Mike Powers — were added alongside head coach Scott Schuchert.

“(Schuchert’s) decision to add (those coaches) to the staff has had a very positive effect on the energy,” Zappone said. “Their experience combined with Coach Scottie is a direct reflection on our record right now.”

Outside of school, Zappone has played for the Pittsburgh Hotspurs, now the Steel City Hotspurs.

“The competitive environment and the elite players that I’ve played with, it’s made me into the player that I am today,” Zappone said. “It all made me even better.”

Zappone recently committed to Pitt-Greensburg to play soccer and plans to major in business administration.

Zappone took some time for a Senior Spotlight Q-and-A session:

How did you get started with soccer?

I started playing with “Tiny Kickers” at the Norwin Soccer Club when I was 4 years old. I’ve been playing ever since. My dad was a big soccer fan, and he’d been my coach for a long time, leading up to high school.

How would you describe your team’s start to the season?

I’m really proud of how we started. I’m honestly not that surprised because of all the work the boys put in during the preseason.

Can you explain what your role is as a center back on this team?

I’m there to be the anchor and the vocal leader out of the back. I analyze the field and see everything that’s going on so I can talk to my midfielders. As center back, my job is to stop the offensive attack and do whatever I can to help out Anthony Scalise back at (goalkeeper).

What went into your decision to attend Pitt-Greensburg?

It was an easy decision, really. Coach (Marc) Bucci showed a lot of interest and was very upfront about the role he saw me in and my future there. They play a very similar game to the Steel City Hotspurs, so I feel I can jump right in and contribute right away. I also love the campus, and both my parents graduated from there.

What is one thing that people may not know about you?

I’m actually really into doing hands-on work. I want to own my own carpentry business. They don’t really know that I like to do woodwork and such.

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