Gavin Buda is equal parts All-Star in both baseball and football, and even though he now considers himself a football-first athlete, it wasn’t always that way.
“I grew up as a baseball player, only baseball,” Buda, a senior at Harborfields High School, said. “Then a couple of my friends convinced me to play football my sophomore year, and then I just fell in love with it, head over heels, and I couldn’t stop playing football. Baseball started to drift away. I’m still a great baseball player, I love the game, but football really just took over for me.”
Buda, the only athlete in Long Island history to play in both the Empire Challenge and the Blue Chip Prospects Grand Slam Challenge, made a 40-yard catch in the 23rd Empire football game Friday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium and will play football at Hobart College.
Hobart does not have a baseball team, so Buda said he will leave baseball behind for now.
The shortstop and pitcher, who retired the side in order in the fifth inning of the 14th Grand Slam Challenge on June 9, said baseball will remain his first love, but stepping foot on the field with some of the best players from Long Island and New York City motivated him to take his football skills to the next level.
“I’ve heard rumors about this game, and I’d heard it’s a life-changing experience, and it is,” the wide receiver said. “It’s just amazing. All these coaches are unbelievable. I’m learning so many new things that are going to translate into college ball.”
Buda streaked down the sideline in the first half with just a step on the defender. Northport’s Ryan Walsh floated an on-target pass into Buda’s outstretched arms, resulting in a 40-yard gain. His teammates mobbed him when he rose from the turf.
“I told my quarterback I could beat this kid, and he threw it up there, and when the ball was in the air, I was like, ‘There’s no chance I’m not catching this,’ ” Buda said. “And then I came down with it, and to get up and look at all my new teammates and new friends run at me, it was just an amazing feeling.”
One of the top two-sport athletes on Long Island, Buda said he was honored to represent “an underrated school like Harborfields.” And to compete in two of Long Island’s most respected All-Star Games?
Said Buda: “It’s something else.”