Garden City’s Brendan Staub was bound and determined to play football.
Even when his mom, Jennifer, and dad, Craig — a former defensive tackle at William & Mary (1989-93) — shot down his requests for the gridiron, Brendan Staub knew he would find a way. But how?
Ready for this? Soccer.
"I was probably the most physical goalie in youth soccer," said Staub, with a laugh. "I was playing in a tournament in fourth or fifth grade, and there was a kid on a breakaway. I put my shoulder into him in what is not a soccer play. It showed why I needed to be on a football field."
His parents finally allowed him to play football for Garden City Middle School in seventh grade. Staub, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week, has never looked back.
The two-way player and captain is one of the team's leaders on and off the field. Garden City (6-0) hosts MacArthur (6-0) in a key Nassau Conference II game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"He’s the top of the top," coach Dave Ettinger said. "He’s a once in a lifetime person and player."
However, Staub recalls one of his first varsity games as a sophomore when he was the starting nose tackle.
"The other team’s [offensive] tackle just man-handles me on the first play. He put me on the ground," he said. "That year, I went against a lot of big guys, and I learned how to play smarter and get back up."
These days, Staub is usually the one delivering the poundings. After playing as a two-way lineman as a junior, Staub has shifted to defensive end/linebacker this season and is the left tackle on offense.
He is also an outstanding defenseman for the lacrosse team and will be attending Cornell next year. Staub has a 101.5 weighted average and scored a 36 (99th percentile) on the ACT.
"He’s just everything you want in a high school football player," Ettinger said. "Brendan is hard-working, competitive, tough, and smart . . . He has it all."
Well, almost everything.
Garden City won a Nassau II title last spring against MacArthur, but there was no Long Island championship because of COVID-19. Garden City lost to Lindenhurst by a point in the LIC when Staub was a sophomore.
"I think it would be super special to win an LIC," he said. "It would be a great way to close the book, and finish on our final season with a title."
Regardless of the outcome, Staub is thankful his parents finally let him trade in his goalie gloves for a pair of lineman gloves.
"I realize how lucky I am to come through a place like Garden City," he said. "The ethos of the Garden City program is 'next man in line'. You come into a program that’s been around a long time.
"We are each just a cog in the Garden City machine. It was here long before me and will still be here long after I’m gone. But you have to do your part to help out in the time that you have here."