A few days ago, I had one of those moments that make you stop in your tracks and take a look at yourself. I was being interviewed for a TV broadcast and was discussing the football team I coach, what it is like to coach in the COVID-era and how I thought the season was going to go. I was talking about the optimism that our team had, what we have done in order to prepare for the upcoming season and how we were excited to get back to playing football after having our 2020 season canceled. That is when it hit me — I have grown up. 

The words that were coming out of my mouth weren’t those of the 20-something Zach that began coaching and talked about changing the fortune of the teams he coached with. It sounded like a mix of my father, my high school football coach and several coaches that I had interviewed in the past. Coaching cliches and adult speech that is expected of those in head coaching/managing positions.

I felt really proud of myself at that moment. For me, it had shown how I had grown as an individual. The first steps were as a husband, then as a father, then as a manager and now as a head coach. I could feel the serious, confident persona oozing off me ... then I nearly got ran into by two players trying to catch a pass.

All my assistant coaches got a good laugh out of the two players nearly running me over and all I could do was give a goofy smile. My players also cracked a smile because they knew that I could laugh at myself and still be someone that they respected. I call this breaking the ice ...

While I have confidence, I am a person that has never really taken himself too seriously. I find that most people that take themselves seriously are boring and stiff. A lot of them aren’t really pleasant people or just not people that you want to spend too much time around.

Despite being in my 30s, it wouldn’t be uncommon to come into the weight room and see me singing and dancing between sets or coming over to my house and find me playing video games with my son. I am not ashamed to say that I get choked up watching “Rudy” or that I enjoy music by Boney M such as “Rasputin,”

“Ma Baker” and “Daddy Cool.” 

When I grew up, so many different TV shows and stories were about how children had helped an adult find their inner child. The grownup became still and rigid and forgot what it was like to have fun. Taking this mantra, I decided that I wouldn’t hide behind a facade of being serious and be upfront with things that I liked —no matter how childish they appeared to other supposed adults.

The way I act has also confused people about my true age. A few weeks back, we hosted co-workers from out of town and after discussion on likes and things going on in the news, I was shocked to hear from a co-worker in their 20s that they didn’t believe that I was in my 30s. “You’re serious? I can’t believe you are that old.” 

After running it back in my head, I didn’t really know whether to take this as a compliment or as an insult. While looking at it as a compliment, it means that I appear younger than I am (which when you get older is a plus). On the other hand, I did get concerned about my co-worker’s thoughts on my maturity level.

I do think that sometimes my personality and appearance can throw people off. I have even felt that it has sometimes limited me from getting certain opportunities. I have a friend who experiences this on a regular basis. He is very intelligent and each job he applies for (which he is almost overqualified) they look at his laid back appearance and write him off. 

Although these are valid concerns, I know that I am not ready to be one of those stiffs. I enjoy spending time with my kids and having them know that I am just as up on the new video game or cartoon as they are because we both like it. I also like the fact that it makes the people I know want to be around me because we can have a great time just hanging out together. One day I will fully grow up and not be fun anymore, but today (and hopefully in the near future) isn’t going to be that day.


Zach Stich is the managing editor at the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.

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