High graduate and Cleveland Browns punter Dave Zastudil, shown
here against Pittsburgh, hasn’t allowed pro football to change
his outlook on life, either on or off the field. (Photo courtesy
of the Cleveland Browns)
consistent in more than just punting
By Jim Horvath
Published Nov. 26, 2008
those who know him, the consistency and reliability that Cleveland
Browns punter and Bay Village native Dave Zastudil has displayed
in his seven year pro career are only an extension of the steadiness
that he has shown on and off athletic fields all his life.
“Dave is the same person he has always been,” said
T.J. Putnam, his longtime friend and former athletic teammate in
several different sports from grade school through through their
high school years at Bay High School.
“With some people, there might be a change because
he’s made the NFL and has more money and status now, but not Dave,”
said Putnam. “He’s the same as he’s always been. He’s a great athlete
and is always one of the leaders in the locker room wherever he’s
gone. But he’s a very down to earth, caring guy who has always helped
others when they need it. He’s the guy who our principal would have
the new kids go around the school with because he knew Dave would
take care of them and show them around.”
Dave’s parents, Tom and Terri Zastudil, who still
live in Bay Village, said Dave has always displayed concern for
“He’s always been a leader, whether it’s with his
teammates or in another activity,” said Tom. “He’s a consistent
person. He always was able to get the other guys on a team to work
toward the common goal by working together.”
Tom said the entire family has always been giving,
but said Dave carries on tradition well.
“We all take part in work campaigns and projects around
the area,” Tom said. “But I think he got the extra caring gene from
his mother. She’s always active with the church and many other places.”
His mom, Terri, said she’s proud of her son in many
ways that go well beyond his athletic skills.
“He’s been helping people out for as long as I can
remember,” she said. “It’s great that he’s a fine athlete, and it’s
fun to watch him as his parent. But in addition to using his abilities
on the field, he’s used it to help others where he can,” said Terri.
“He’d be helping other people out anyway, but it’s great that he
uses all the gifts he has to help others.”
For his part, Zastudil said he’s glad to give back
to other people.
“It’s great that I’ve been fortunate enough to get
this far professionally,” Dave said. “Because of it, I’ve been able
to do some things that most people aren’t able to or don’t have
the resources to do. So, I’m glad to give something back and help
out in different areas.’
Zastudil’s willingness to use his athletic and people
skills extends to many areas, his parents noted. Putnam agreed,
adding that as the holiday season nears and the spirit of giving
grows, said he expects his longtime friend to be active in it by
continuing to help others.
“He does it all year round,” said Putnam, who currently
is a manager at the city of Dublin Recreation Center near Columbus.
“It’s a little tougher during the season, but he’s always been there
when you need him. He’s been great, whether it’s just talking with
me as a friend when I want to talk or doing something for a group
that needs help.”
In some recent examples, last February, Zastudil was
a sponsor for a Super Bowl party which raised funds for Rise Above
It, a non-profit organization which helps young adults battling
cancer. Some other activities that he he’s helped in recent months
with include reading books for young children for the Cuyahoga County
Public Library system, appearing at an alumni event for his collegiate
alma mater, Ohio University, or the extensive help he has given
to athletics at Bay High School. He’s aided the Fields of Dreams
renovation of athletic facilities for the school district and helped
the high school football team.
Tom said all those activities and more are typical
“He’s that type of person,” he said. “He’ll do it
for people and places that he doesn’t know as well.”
He cited as one example, Dave lending a hand and helping
raise $4,000 for the Willoughby South High School track program.
“As soon as he found out they needed help, he got
involved,” Tom said.
Officials with the Fields of Dreams project said he’s
been just as active with the group’s work in raising funds for renovating
the various athletic facilities for the Bay School District.
“He has been a major contributor,” said Barb Harrell,
one of the Rockets Renovation group’s leaders. “He has certainly
helped out a lot financially on his own, but he’s also worked with
other people and groups. He’s always helpful and encouraging and
he genuinely cares about what’s going on.”
Clint Keener, superintendent of the Bay School District,
said Zastudil has helped draw attention to the field work both intentionally
“Certainly it helps having someone of his stature
help out by raising funds and taking part in the project,” Keener
said. “He helps bring other people in when they see he’s taking
part and we appreciate it. It shows the type of person he is.”
Keener said Zastudil’s strong work ethic even brought
accidental attention to the field and renovation work several months
“We got a call this summer about someone going out
on our new fields and using them without permission and possibly
causing some problems,” Keener said. “So, when we went to check
it it out, it turned out to be Dave and (Browns placekicker) Phil
Dawson, who were practicing their kicking and working out. Of course,
our reaction: leave them be and let them practice, but we’re glad
people are interested in the fields.”
Putnam said he isn’t surprised by that story.
“Dave’s always been a hard worker, so that’s typical
of him. But it also shows the type of place Bay is,” he said. “It’s
a great place because people care about their community and what’s
going on. I’d love to come back there some day and I know Dave was
glad to come home.”
Zastudil, who spent his first four seasons in the
NFL with the Browns’ AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens, agreed with
“It was a lot of fun growing up there with guys like
T.J.,” he said. “We got to do a lot of things because people care
about Bay Village. T.J.’s the type of guy who’ll be my friend forever.
I’m glad that I can help give a little back and give other kids
the opportunity to use some good facilities in the community.”
One teenager who has benefited from Dave’s help both
personally and with the field is Bay High School senior Brian Harrell,
a second team all district kicker in 2008.
“He’s a great guy,” said Harrell. “He helped me personally
with my punting and kicking. He started working with me when I was
a sophomore and I really appreciate it. He’s always stressed consistency
and hard work.”
Harrell said Zastudil has helped the entire football
team with more than just the new athletic fields.
“He’s brought in other Browns and they all helped
us out,” he said. “It’s nice to get that kind of help from players
who have achieved what they have to get that far.”
Zastudil admits that with he and his wife Jennifer
now having had their first child, Mckenzie, he is even more aware
of family and community.
“Having our daughter makes us want to help around
not only where we live, but in the Cleveland area and other places
when we can,” he said. “Being a parent makes you think of those
“I’m fortunate because I had great parents and a supportive
family, and my in-laws are super people as well. Now, we just continue
and try to give something back that the kids and other people can
use,” he said.