Three-sport star’s charity efforts go far beyond schoolyard

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

To say that Torin Zonfrelli takes the whole idea of giving back to its extreme is an understatement. The two-sport captain at Marion (Mass.) Tabor Academy, who leads both the football and wrestling teams, has already started a full-fledged charity and led a number of urgent need drives to help those who are considered "less privileged" in any number of ways.

Tabor Academy wrestler and football captain Torin Zonfrelli
Tabor Academy wrestler and football captain Torin Zonfrelli

As outlined in a profile from the Boston Globe, Zonfrelli first got the urge to give back when visiting his older brother Anthony, who will be a sophomore at Harvard when school re-starts in a few weeks. Taken aback by the number of people living on the street, Zonfrelli returned home and officially started The Zonfrelli Project, dedicated to donating food to families and individuals in need.

Zonfrelli began by collecting as much nonperishable food as possible from the Tabor Academy community, then realized that he needed to find more support. He hit up his family for help, then spread his efforts to local businesses.

Eventually, the 17-year-old had enough support to supply the church food pantry at St. Anthony's church in New Bedford, Mass., every Thursday.

Though those single-manned efforts were already impressive, Zonfrelli didn't hold back his personal commitment to community service there. When tornadoes tore apart Western Massachusetts near the Springfield area, Zonfrelli convinced his family to spring into action. The tight-knit group started a clothing drive, then took storm cleanup into their own hands, driving out to the affected areas to help with the large-scale efforts to clear debris.

With aid for multiple parts of the greater Massachusetts community under way, Zonfrelli and his brother decided they could look farther afield for people to help. The pair are currently traveling through New Zealand, holding sports clinics for underprivileged children to help teach wrestling and rugby technique.

All in a year's work for a teen who has decided that he didn't want to stand by and watch the world crumble in front of him.

"I go to Tabor Academy and I'm so fortunate to go there," Zonfrelli told the Globe. "I'm privileged. It's nice to give back to people who are less fortunate."

When he returns for his final year of high school, Zonfrelli will continue to compete in three varsity sports. For most teens training for three varsity sports and co-captaining two of those would be plenty to keep them busy, even before the challenging academic demands put on Zonfrelli at Tabor.

That won't be enough for Zonfrelli in his last year in high school as he continues to run The Zonfrelli Project and look for other ways to help. Fittingly, Zonfrelli's wrestling coach, Conan Leary, is hardly surprised, or upset, about his dual devotions.

"He leads by example," he said. "In the wrestling room he's the first one to start drills or the first one to help someone out. When he wins, he's a gentleman and when he loses, he loses as a gentleman. He doesn't lose often, though.

"The way Torin carries himself is beyond championships. All the stuff he's able to do outside the wrestling room, academically, in the community, is wonderful."

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