Zillah’s Sebastian Godina Dreams of Third State Title in Four Years
Zillah forward Sebastian Godina might be having his best season yet in his senior year.
So far in the young campaign, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. Both of which are career highs.
It’s not too out of the ordinary for an athlete’s best season to come in his last, but Godina is a special case, because he has put together an unreal high school resume.
In the past four years, he’s garnered a First Team All League honor, a Second Team All League honor, Zillah Basketball’s Most Inspirational, three varsity letters and perhaps most importantly, two state championships.
In your entire lifetime, you will only run into a handful of high schoolers that boast that many accolades (not even mentioning his football awards).
On paper, this is just another year of Godina stuffing the stat sheet and helping Zillah to wild success. But there actually is a key difference this year compared to previous seasons.
“I honestly feel like a different person now compared to when I started as a freshman,” Godina said. “Now as a senior, I feel like my experience is giving me a chance to help lead this team, and hopefully win a third state title. We believe we can.”
Godina is a homegrown talent in every sense of the word, as he moved to Zillah prior to the start of elementary school.
While he certainly had good athletic talent and size, he largely stuck to playing in rec leagues and on the playground.
In the basketball-crazed Zillah community, it is fairly common for players to start receiving formal training at a young age. But Godina was not aware of this, as he was new to the area.
While playing youth baseball, Godina’s physical talent caught the eye of Mike Ide, who is the father of Zillah player Weston Ide. Mike Ide was a head coach in Zillah’s youth system, and he would become a big part in introducing Godina to basketball.
“It was clear that he was real athletic,” Ide said. “So I asked him if he liked basketball, and he said ‘I don’t know I’ve never played.’ So I invited him to practice and we started working on the fundamentals.”
During the following years, Godina would earn the opportunity to play for an array of select teams in the area. Under the guidance of a highly competitive system, Godina began to see both his talent and love for the game skyrocket.
Playing against older competition became commonplace for him. At what point as a seventh grader, he was playing against high school seniors (albeit towards the end of lopsided games).
Godina said that competing against older players instilled a high level of confidence in him. As time drew closer to the high school ranks, he knew he could be a difference-maker.
When Godina arrived on the scene as a freshman, Leopards head coach Mario Mengarelli believed he had the skill set necessary to be a varsity contributor.
But because there was already great talent ahead of him, he gave Godina the first year to find himself, and really sharpen every part of his game.
“I knew he’d be a future, one of our greatest of all time in that role,” Mengarelli said. “In our record books, he’s climbing our all time rebounds list. For a program like Zillah, that’s something to be said.”
After winning a state title, a total of nine seniors would graduate from the program. Godina suddenly found himself taken from the back of the team photo, to now being thrust into a workhorse role.
“As a freshman, I played in a few games and I personally felt like I wasn’t ready,“ Godina said. “But as time went on, I started growing as a player, and that experience was valuable to get me ready.”
According to Mengarelli, the key reason for Godina’s quick rise to stardom was the mentality that he could be that level of player.
Along with other rising players like Antonio Salinas, Brock Ellis, and Cesar Diaz, Zillah would make a final four appearance the following season. Then they came back and won state during Godina’s junior year.
A Final Year To Remember
Godina’s final campaign with the Zillah Leopards has been an incredibly fascinating one.
Whenever a team wins a state championship, there’s almost always a drop off in production the following year. But this year's Leopards team has been hellbent on fighting that narrative. So far many rankings have them number one in the state.
As a first time captain, Godina is utilizing his experience and natural charisma to help anchor the locker room. He says that after years of being in a supportive role, it’s been special to have the chance to lead the team.
During the off-season, a new player joined the program in Mason Landdeck. He knew hardly anyone in Zillah, but one of the first guys to welcome him in was Godina.
“When I first moved out here, I was by myself, and he asked me if I wanted to hang out before football practice,” Landdeck said. “Even in the school hallways, he was showing me around and helping me out."
Between the chaos of roster turnover and a lot of uncertainty, Godina’s steady presence has been instrumental in helping Zillah stay on course this season.
The Future Is Bright
As much as Godina loves basketball, there’s a very strong chance that his future lies not on the hardwood, but on the gridiron.
In the basketball world, a 6-foot-3 power forward won’t draw a large amount of interest from college programs. But at the same time, a 6-foot-3 safety will draw a whole lot of attention from football coaches.
A hard-hitting safety is exactly what Godina is, and so he’s captured the attention of college football programs from all over the region.
Some of these schools include Linfield, George Fox, Concordia, Central Washington University, Eastern Oregon University, University of Puget Sound, and even Oregon State.
“The physicality is what I enjoy most about playing football. That’s where I’ll go if it gives me the best chance,” Godina said.
Godina said that while he enjoys both basketball and football, what’s most important to him is opportunity at the next level. When it comes to scholarships and playing time, football is absolutely the way to go.
Looking at the bigger picture, Godina said that he plans to study exercise science in college, in hopes of becoming a physical therapist.
Even as exciting as his future prospects are, right now his heart is 100% devoted to helping Zillah be the best they can be. Winning a third title would be a fitting end to an amazing high school career.
Godina is a tremendous product of the Zillah community. His proven work ethic and spirited nature will take him far at the next level, and also the chapters after.