Aug. 20, 2000
TURLOCK - Trying to pin a label on freshman place kicker Anthony Fassero can be a difficult talk.
First, there's Fassero the golfer, who played on the varsity his freshman year at Modesto's Davis High School.
Then there's Fassero the Eagle Scout and accomplished hiker, who has climbed to the summit of Mt. Rainer and led groups of scouts on rigorous 50-mile treks through the Sierras.
In the classroom, Fassero the student graduated high school with better than a 4.00 GPA and has ideas of majoring in either molecular and cell biology or engineering at Cal.
Finally, there's Fassero the football player, a recruited walk-on who is in the hunt to be the Bears starting kicker.
In the athletic realm, Fassero first thought of himself as a golfer. At Davis HS, he became one of the first freshmen in school history to make the varsity. But Fassero also fancied himself on the gridiron, and a chance meeting with kicking guru Paul Assad was the turning point.
Just before the start of his freshman football season, Fassero was practicing his kicking with his father when Assad happened by and it changed his athletic focus.
"My freshman year, I was really good at golf and though that's where I would head off to," Fassero said. "But as my high school years went on, I guess I didn't play enough golf. I never got much better."
Football, though, was a different story. After being able to make 25-to-30-yard field goals as a freshman, Assad helped Fassero improve to 37-yards as a sophomore and to greater than 50 yards as a junior. In addition, Fassero went from someone who couldn't reach the end zone on kickoffs to one who regularly put the ball over the goal line.
As a result, head coach Tom Holmoe offered Fassero a spot on the Cal roster as a walk-on, not an unusual prospect for a kicker and an increasingly familiar label on the Bear squad. Over the past four years, Holmoe and his staff have placed an emphasis on recruiting walk-on athletes, and this season, Cal has add 17 freshmen walk-on players.
In addition to Fassero, others who fit the same bill are quarterback Andrew Zelinski from Spokane, Wash., offensive lineman Baron Ma of Oakland and linebacker Scott Macek from San Diego. A number of other players who arrived in Berkeley as walk-ons but now have scholarships, including linebacker Scott Fujita, wide receiver Sean Currin and tight end Tom Swoboda.
For now, Fassero finds himself as one of four kickers, along with Mark-Christian Jensen, Jeremy Hershey and Tyler Fredrickson, vying for starting duties, although head coach Tom Holmoe said it's too early in camp to name a leader. Said Fassero: "I'm going to give it my best shot to start."
As determined as he may be to claim first-team duties his freshman year, Fassero makes it clear why he chose to attend Cal.
"I'm in it for the academics," he said. "If football doesn't work out, I'm going to get the education. Still, I'm going to go as far as I can with it."
With as many talents as Fassero has, don't be surprised if he finds success in both.