June 4, 2000
By Steve Jacobson
Washington State wide receiver Farwan Zubedi has pretty much seen it all both on and off the football field. The 21-year-old senior-to-be has already lived in four different countries during his young life.
Zubedi (pronounced Zoo-bay-dee) was born in Mango, Uganda and moved to Kenya when he was four.
Farwan and his family lived in Kenya for two years before moving halfway around the world to San Diego, Calif. Because of the civil unrest in Kenya, Zubedi's father Fauzi felt it would be safer for the family to move to the United States.
However, Fauzi stayed behind and left Farwan's mother Nana and his uncle to take care of a six-year-old Farwan and his sister Samira in San Diego.
"I don't think we were granted residency there, so my mom filed to go to Canada," Zubedi said about his family's next adventure. "We got our citizenship in Canada about four years after that. My uncle basically did the same thing."
Finally Farwan had a home, but one thing was missing. Fauzi was still in Kenya. Seven years later, the family was reunited when Farwan's father left for British Columbia.
With the family always on the move or lacking all of its members, the Zubedis became real close and dependent upon one another.
"We're pretty close," Farwan said. "It's just the four of us out here. I still talk to my mom about every three days. I talk to my sister, who lives in Atlanta, about every four or five days. We keep in touch. We always keep in touch."
With his family back to normal, Farwan took to sports as a hobby, playing football, basketball and tennis. Did he get a chance to play with the wider field and lack of illegal motion penalties in Canada?
"We played American high school rules," Zubedi said. "You don't get to play on the wider fields until private leagues for teams like the Vancouver Trojans. They play all Canadian rules with the three downs."
The Vancouver Trojans are for people to play after high school, or people who are done playing college ball and cannot continue at the professional level. People sometimes get drafted out of this league. But the Trojans weren't even a though for Farwan.
"I wanted to come down here and play basketball in the (United) States on a basketball scholarship but it didn't turn out," he said. "Football was my second choice."
But when Washington State began recruiting Zubedi, he felt this would be his best option at achieving the ultimate goal of going pro. And by going pro, the Canadian Football League is not his first choice.
"That's something I'd like to do, but I'm going for a higher goal," Zubedi said. "My ultimate goal is to get to the NFL. That is what I'm shooting for. People might say that I'm too small, but we'll see."
It has been the work ethic and knowledge Zubedi has displayed over his career at WSU that turned him from a walk-on to a scholarship football player when coach Mike Price rewarded him in the spring of 1999
"It was like the whole world was lifted off my shoulders," Zubedi said. "I was stressing. I didn't know what I was going to do, because I don't think I would have been able to come back for the fall of 2000. When I got the word, I was like, 'Wow!' It was total relief. I was happy about that and my mom was too."
Zubedi is one of only nine people that came to WSU during the 1996 season to play out his career at WSU. The others are: Adam Hawkins, Austin Matson, Paul Mencke, Brad Philley, Reed and Ryan Raymond and Brandon and Ryan Pickering
The knowledge and experience has allowed Zubedi to be named as an offensive captain for the 2000 football season.
"It just feels so good," Zubedi said about being named a captain. "I've been here for four years and it's been so up and down for me. It feels so good to know that your teammates chose you as a captain. All that hard work, all that sweat and the tears, all of that comes up. My jaw just about hit the floor when coach Price told me.
"I just couldn't believe it. Inside I knew this was an opportunity for me to step up. I have no excuses to do anything bad. That's what I like. I like to have some pressure on me and that's what I have."
Pressure to play well and pressure to help the Cougars succeed. With many younger players in the system, Zubedi has had to help his teammates learn the playbook and their receiving routes.
"I actually like it," Zubedi said. "I came in with a bunch of people, but I was the only receiver in the class of '96 when I walked on. I've got the experience now. It's fun to teach somebody what to do. I like being out there and helping everybody out. I got a lot of help growing up in the system and I've got to give back."
Zubedi said the perfect 2000 season would be for the Cougars to go undefeated and be in contention to win the national championship.
"That's everybody's dream and this is my last year," he said. "Why not? Let's go ahead and do this. I just want to have fun out there. That's what I didn't have too much of last year. All I want to do is win and we're going to have fun, that's it. I don't want to go off like my senior year in high school. We were two and eight. I don't want to do that again.
"The young guys like me and Adam Hawkins, we were there and experienced the Rose Bowl year," he continued. "I don't know how to explain it, but I believe we have what it takes to do it. Looking at those guys (Rose Bowl team). How do you fill those shoes? At the same time, if you work hard like they did, anything is possible. I just want to win."
And win he will. Zubedi is finishing up his undergraduate work on a fine arts degree with an emphasis on graphic and web design. Last semester, Zubedi posted a 3.0 grade point average.
"That was cool because I was working hard on the field and I was working hard in the classroom," he said. "That's what I try to do. There's no reason why you can't excel in class. It just makes you feel better as a person. Getting A's on the football field and F's in the classroom, that's just not me. I have to be consistent and do good in everything I do."
It seems odd that a person as driven as Zubedi would cherish sleep as much as he does.
"Saturday's when I have nothing to do, I'll wake up at seven o'clock at night if I can," Zubedi said. "I'll just stay in bed all day. I'm just a laid back kind of individual. Some people think I'm not intense, but I play with inner intensity. I don't have to be whoopin' and hollerin'. I have that inner zen."
That inner zen helps keep him sane when person after person mispronounces his name.
"People would come up to me and call me 'Zoo-bee-dee,' 'Zoo-bid-ee,' 'Zab-bid-oo' and all this crazy stuff," he said. "I'm like it's 'Zoo-bay-dee' man. I'm not really tripping about that. It's just funny to me. We were at Valhalla the other night, playing pool with this guy. He asked me what my name was and I said 'Farwan.' He said, 'Oh, Zab-bid-ee.' C'mon man, there a 'U' there, there's a 'B', where'd you get that from?'
Just remember on that game-winning catch in 2000, it's "Zoo-bay-dee!"