Buccaneer Spotlight - A.J. ToscanoNovember 19, 2009
Throughout the 2009-10 athletic season, the CSU Sports Information Department will profile several Buccaneer student-athletes who have excelled on and off the field of play. Today's feature focuses on football quarterback A.J. Toscano.
Close to 250 colleges and universities play NCAA Division I football. But few of those schools emphasize character development and spiritual growth like Charleston Southern does. The uniqueness of the program did not go unnoticed by quarterback A.J. Toscano, who saw the difference in the people at Charleston Southern before he every set foot on campus.
“I’d never even heard of Charleston or CSU before Coach (Jamey) Chadwell came to my junior college after my sophomore season,” Toscano says when looking back on the path that led him to CSU. “But the people here really made an impression on me, especially when I visited campus.”
What really impressed Toscano was the Christian attitude demonstrated by the folks at CSU, and the genuine interest they took in his spiritual walk. “Right away, I felt like I could trust the people here because of their Christian faith,” he says. “More than facilities or academics, that’s what brought me here.”
The timing couldn’t have been better for Toscano, who had recommitted himself to his Christian faith during his final year at California’s Cerritos College. “I didn’t really go to church much until about a year before I came to CSU,” the Pico Rivera, Calif. Native says. “But coming to a place where the Lord is the focus has really helped by Christian walk tremendously.”
“There are so many people here that have answered any questions that I might have and have helped me grow.”
But the Christian atmosphere at CSU didn’t keep Toscano from experiencing that homesickness that comes from moving 3,000 miles from home. “After my first semester, during spring ball, I really thought about moving closer to home,” Toscano says. “But once football practice ended, I start developing relationships with people off the field, and I realized how much I loved being here.”
The spiritual growth Toscano has experienced at CSU led him join teammates Joel Walton and Davion Stack in getting baptized two weeks ago. “I was a little nervous at first, but it was something that I really wanted to do,” the quarterback says. “The coaches here were very supportive and answered all the questions I had.”
“That weekend was very special.”
Toscano has been growing on the field as well. After struggling in his first two conference games, both losses, the signal caller played interception-free football in victories over VMI and Presbyterian and also led the team to an overtime win over Stony Brook. After throwing four touchdown passes and running for another against the Blue Hose, he was named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
“Our improvement over that past three weeks is all about details - running the right routes, throwing the ball on time - those things slowed us down in the first two conference games, but we’ve really executed well in our three victories.”
For Toscano, winning the last game against Coastal Carolina and finishing with a winning record would be a great way to finish his first season as CSU’s primary starter. “Football is all about pride, and we’ve worked too hard all season long to not take pride in how the season ends,” Toscano says. “Finishing with a winning record is very important; there’s no way we can’t go out an give everything we have in these last two games.”
But thanks to the guidance he’s received at Charleston Southern, Toscano knows that a winning record isn’t what’s most important in life. “Being here has taught me that life is about being a good person, showing discipline, treating people well, and walking with the Lord.”
“It’s not about football. It’s about being a better man.”