STEUBENVILLE - Brenton Colabella is thankful for a lot of things.
God, parents, sister, family, friends, teammates, coaches and teachers.
In his sports world, the Steubenville Catholic Central senior is thankful for being a three-sport athlete.
He is thankful for all those practices, early mornings, late nights studying and being around his teammates.
"All that work, all that time, everything has made me whom I am," he said. "I am thankful my parents have supported me in everything that I do. I have a great sister.
"I'm pretty lucky."
Colabella, who recently inked his name to a national letter of intent to play football at West Liberty University, readily admits his success in football is attributed to his participation in basketball and baseball.
"I can't imagine not playing all three," he said. "I think there should be more three-sport athletes. I believe it helps you in every aspect of life. It has helped me learn time management, which will be crucial next year when I get to college. It has helped me work on every part of my body, including my mind.
"There are different preparations for each sport.
"Football is once a week. You study film, put in a game plan and work that game plan. I also have to read defenses on the spot and call an audible if I see something different that will work.
"In basketball, you play two or three times a week. There is some film, but sometimes you play back-to-back and it's just trust your athletic ability, listen to the coaches and adjust on the fly.
"In baseball, we can play five or six times a week, based on what's going on. That is really see the pitch and hit it and make clean fielding plays."
That's just in-season high school stuff and doesn't count the hectic summer schedules.
"I'm never home during the summer," Colabella said. "With the high school, it's usually workouts in the morning then throw the football around. We may then have a couple of hours to spare, but then it's up to Vaccaro to hit before a game or have practice (for Legion baseball for Post 33). It's then on repeat. It's the same every day.
"Sometimes I would play some basketball, but usually it was filled up with football and baseball.
"It's three sports and that's what I've been about my whole life. I wouldn't want it any other way. I'd tell anyone that three sports is the way to go. You want to be active the whole time. It was crazy, but it was fun. You're with your friends the whole time because that's what they're doing.
"I lifted in the morning, worked out with Lance Sermon for footwork, and he's tremendous. He got my footwork better and made me faster - and I needed all the help I could get in that area. I appreciate all the time he put in with me and thank him.
"Post 33 is probably one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. We mess around in the dugout and we win. You have to experience being in the dugout to know what it's about. It's not like a normal baseball game. We have fun. But, know when to work hard and be serious. It all goes hand-in-hand.
"Coach Stacks (Mark Stacy) is a great man. He is one of the greatest coaches who has ever coached me. He's helped me out through everything, not only just baseball, but life. He's an awesome guy and I thank him for everything as well."
Colabella will graduate from Catholic Central as a four-year letterman in three sports. He started at quarterback and on the baseball team as a freshman and in basketball midway through his freshman season.
"I've been pretty fortunate," he said. "Coach (Gregg) Bahen and coach (Frank) Spence had the confidence in me as a freshman to start at quarterback (something that had never been done in school history), coach (Sean) Tucker in basketball and coach Spence again in baseball. I appreciate the confidence they had in me back then.
"Baseball has always been fun and it will be fun again this year. We want to go further in the playoffs. I just have a blast playing with my friends. They are a great group of guys to be around. I can't see myself doing any of this without them.
"Basketball has really helped me with my footwork for football. It's a team game and no one is going all the points. You have to know your role. I'm more of a passer and I guard the big guy and I am just fine with that. Coach Tuck has been great with me throughout my four years. He's a great role model. We work really hard and that is another fun part of playing three sports.
"Nothing is going to take the place of going through all of this with my friends. We have a good time. We like to mess around. We're not the most serious group, but we know when to be serious. When we need to work, we work hard and we have taken pride in that. We know how to have a good time as well and that's what makes us a unique group. I think that's what has helped us succeed.
"If you're not having fun when you're doing it, there's no point in doing it. That's how we look at it.
"That's why I like to tell kids at a young age to play three sports. If you want to be successful in one sport, you have to learn how to compete and playing three sports helps you compete in different areas of sports and I think that's critical to being a well-rounded athlete."
Colabella rewrote the Crusaders' record book throwing the ball.
He finished his career with 7,780 yards and 83 touchdowns, the most in OVAC history.
"Once I went on my visit (to West Lib), it felt like home talking to coach Roger Waialae, my recruiting coordinator coach (Jeff) Monteroso and Zach Amedro (the new quarterbacks coach)," said Colabella, who is going to major in education and minor in special education. "He (Amedro) broke all the records down there and learning from him will be great. He knows so much about the game. I talked football with him for about an hour. He's very knowledgeable about the game and I can't wait to start working with him.
"Being close to home was never the deciding factor. But, being 40 minutes from home is always a plus. The (recruiting) process was stressful at times. It's a waiting process. Once West Lib offered, I knew it was the place to be."
Colabella eventually made the decision that it was football over baseball in college.
"Starting my sophomore year I began to have a real passion for football," he said. "Not only playing the game, but the preparation - watching the film and putting in the game plan and practices. In all reality, you win the game during the week - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - and not on Saturday nights.
"I knew I wanted to be a college quarterback when that passion kept growing and growing.
"I've always been close to football, I've been around it since I was 3. My dad (Joe) is a defensive coordinator so I understand defense very well.
"I've always thought I wanted to be a defensive player, but it worked out that I was a quarterback and I like it that way. My dad taught me how to watch film. It comes second nature to me now."
Crusaders football coach Steve Daley knows what kind of football player the Hilltoppers are getting.
"Once he gets familiar with their terminology, I think he has a good head start because he has a familiarity with their system. It is really close to what he's been running here for the past three years," said Daley. "During his junior and senior year, you could see the maturity process taking place.
"It's neat when you sit down with a kid, going over some things (watching film) and he's already seen it and knows what's going on. It makes your job easy as a coach. Now, I know I am going back and teaching that to someone else this year.
"Having his dad, I am sure watching film didn't end here. When he went home, he had a coach right there. He really put himself into film study and learning as much as he could.
"Brenton is one of the best leaders I've had. He led by words and example. He is one of the hardest workers we have. He is one of those kids who is the first one in the locker room and the last one to leave."
Colabella knows he did not reach this point alone.
"I want to thank my mom and dad. My dad has been the coach of me forever. He's taught me everything I know about sports and he's taught me to be the man I am today," said Colabella. "I'm a mama's boy at heart and I'm not afraid to admit it. She's always been there when my dad has come down on me. But, she's been hard on me as well and I appreciate that.
"My sister is my biggest fan and I am thankful for that. I want to thank Mema for coming to every game. She never misses.
"I want to thank coach Daley, coach Bahen, coach Spence and all my aunts and uncles.
"Without my teammates, none of this would be possible."