Troy Zarba enjoyed playing in front of a larger crowd size than a typical Bellport boys soccer game, but it was nothing compared to what he experiences online.
The Bellport senior has developed one of the more popular accounts on TikTok, a social media app used to create videos, often featuring lip-syncing to songs or for humor and entertainment. Zarba has 1.3 million followers on his account.
“I was bored and it looked like something I could get into because I like making videos,” Zarba said. “And it’s something that’s grown into something crazy.”
But when he’s not creating viral videos, Zarba, a three-year varsity defender, anchors the backline for the Bellport boys soccer team. He also has the ability to create plays for himself and others. He had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 home victory over Comsewogue on Senior Day in Suffolk League IV Wednesday evening.
Zarba says he has interactions with students and even opponents “every day” about his social media presence. He said he never expected his profile to become as popular as it is, but he enjoys entertaining his followers.
“It’s cool connecting with all these people, especially with a big audience,” Zarba said. “You could make whatever content you want and people enjoy it and you have people that support you.”
Zarba was one of five seniors honored at halftime for playing in their final games for Bellport. Luis Velasco, also a senior, had two goals in the win.
“Those two guys are cornerstones for our program,” said assistant coach Brian Satterley. “They just bust their butts day in and day out at practice and it really translates to the game and I’m glad they got rewarded for it today.”
Although Bellport knew before the game it wouldn’t be advancing to the playoffs, Velasco, playing in front of his parents, wanted to end his varsity tenure on a high note.
“It gave us more motivation to win and to represent our school,” said Velasco with his teammate Chris Ascencio serving as an interpreter. “That’s what we were working toward.”
Brian Taylor added a goal for Bellport and CJ Scricco scored for Comsewogue (0-12).
Bellport (5-6-1) played aggressive from the opening whistle, knowing it was their last time playing on the field together, but wanting to make the most of the experience.
“Especially with a win and all these people in the stands, our school coming out and watching us, that’s the most important thing,” Zarba said. “Being in front of all these people.”