My Story

I have many sports stories throughout my athletic career that I could share, but this story is about faith, perseverance, and hard work in sports that can translate to life in general. I had to trust my hard work and faith that God was going to come through for me to support my goals and dreams. One of those dreams was being able to play varsity basketball with my older brother

Ever since I was little, my parents had me heavily involved. Whether it was sports, roller skating, or going to the pool in the summers, I was always active. When I was four years old, I developed a love for basketball that stayed with me forever. In 2015, I was a high school sophomore basketball player. The previous year as a freshman, I played on JV. At the time, my brother (two years older), was a senior on the basketball team. We trained together during the offseason for hours daily to make sure we were the best players we could be. 

When tryouts came around in November, I wanted to try out for Varsity since I was on JV the previous year. I knew I wouldn’t get much playing time with my brother being one of seven seniors, but I wanted to be on the same team as him. We both dreamed of possibly seeing the court together at some point. I made the Varsity basketball team as a sophomore. Everything was going well until our first scrimmage. 

During our first scrimmage of the season, I was put in for the last two minutes of the third quarter. As the quarter ended, I made a three-point shot to beat the buzzer. As a sophomore on varsity with many seniors, I felt good about myself and did a three-point celebration. The celebration is like Carmelo Anthony’s today. The only problem was that my coach didn’t approve of celebrating after three-point baskets. 

The next practice, I was pulled into coach’s office with all the other coaches in the basketball program. The coaches came to a decision that I would be put down to JV for the remainder of the season because of my actions because they were not tolerated on varsity. Not only was I devastated not being on varsity, but all I ever wanted was to play with my brother for one season. That clearly wasn’t going to happen. 

My first practice on the JV team players were choosing their numbers. Coming from varsity, everyone on JV showed me respect due to me being on varsity. The one thing I wanted on JV was a good number. I wanted the number 24 because my favorite basketball player was Kobe Bryant. The only problem was that the number was already chosen by another JV player. That left me with the number thirty. From that point on, I got the nickname thirty, or ‘ZP30,’ for my number and my initials. 

At first, I wasn’t happy with the number thirty. As time went on, though, I embraced it. I embraced it with the adversity I was going through and that this was a fresh start. I was going to use my new nickname and the number thirty as the reason why I needed to keep working hard, keep pushing towards my dreams, and most importantly keep faith in God that everything would work out. 

At the conclusion of my JV season, I was the team’s leading scorer, and I was bumped up to varsity for the playoffs. I finally got to see the court with my brother and play with him for one game before our season finally ended. But that wasn’t all.  

Fast forwarding to my senior year, the first half of the season went great. I started, was captain of the team, was tied for leading scorer on the team, and colleges became interested in me. Everything seemed to be going well until the second half of the season. This is when the coach stopped playing me. When I asked him what I did wrong or how I could fix things, he had no answer for me but to look at film. I looked at film and after that he still had no answer for me. I was essentially benched for the rest of the season and watched my team lose a home playoff game during my last season in a game I barely played. I cried that night, but my parents told me to stay faithful and that God was working something else out in my favor. I was devastated and thought colleges would lose interest in me. 

One thing that stuck out to me on this journey is even when I lost faith in myself at times, God didn’t. When I lost faith, my soon to be college coach Brian Zoeller didn’t. Coach Zoeller asked if our team had lost in the playoffs, I told him we did, and we moved on. I later ended up attending Wilson College where Zoeller was coaching because he never lost interest or faith in me as a player.

The next year at college, I was a freshman. I was told I was going to start, but my mindset was to go into practice every day and be the best that I could. I was the new guy and needed to prove myself. Being told I would be starting was one thing, but I knew that I would not get to have a top choice in choosing a number. I wanted to choose twenty-four or five, my favorite numbers, but I stuck with thirty. 

The reason I stuck with thirty is not only because of my nickname, but because of what the number meant to me. The number thirty meant hard work, dedication, faithfulness, and sacrifice, to say the least. The number thirty was the reason that I was able to pursue my dream of playing college basketball. 

As a freshman, I ended up starting in all games but senior night, helping lead my team to a school record of 20-8, and becoming the college’s Rookie of the Year. 

To a lot of people an athlete’s number doesn’t have any significance, but to me, my number always had a meaning behind it. 

From this day forward, I thank God for putting me in those valuable situations. At the time, those situations caused nothing but anger and frustration in my life. But looking back on them, I’m glad they happened because they tested my faith, my passion, and my work ethic. They helped make me the person I am today

Zach has Nominated (N) or Introduced (I) and if they Shared (S) their story:



My Advice

My advice to others would be to 1, glorify God in all that you do. He may be taking you through a storm, some rough patches, or adversity but it's all for a reason. So during tough times make sure you pray and seek guidance and righteousness. When you don't understand why certain things are happening, pray, let God's word fill you, and be patient with his timing. Number 2, don't get so overly confident and arrogant that you forget where you are. Sometimes when we get too comfortable God makes us take a step back and realize that the place you're in is for a reason. Whether it's a bad place or a blessing. And that good things can be taken away quicker than we got them. Third, stay faithful and work hard. These are two things that can be hard to do at times, but God rewards faithfulness and hard work. Working hard and seeing your dream or goal through helps tremendously. Lastly, have meaning and purpose behind what you do. It wasn't easy working hard each and every day through adversity, but my purpose was always greater than just me. I wanted to be an example to others. Having meaning and purpose helps you stay on the path to faithfulness, righteousness, and hard work.

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Zach Powell

Sports Journalist

I focus on feature writing and all types of sports journalism topics. I focus on basketball and football, but I played college basketball, so I understand the game in a different light than other sports journalists.

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Zach Powell
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Twitter: ZiggidyZach_

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Peggy Bodde says:

As a college athlete, I deeply appreciate everything you shared, Zach! God continues to use you in a mighty way. Keep your eyes on Him, and thank you for this inspiring testimony. I especially like your advice!

Gary Rogers says:

I’m thankful for you Zach for sharing your story. I know God’s timing is best in order to encourage others and thankful for when that time comes. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better and staying in touch always. Great job with your interview for the National Championship Game for the College Playoffs in 2022 too!