Zach Emerson, a high school senior at Mountain View, is becoming an anomaly in the contemporary sports world--he plays football, soccer, basketball, and track and field. In an age of increasing athletic specialization, Emerson is an endangered species--the multi-sport athlete.
(And a darn good one, too.)
On the gridiron, Emerson was named on the 2015 class 5A All-State football team as a kicker and a punter. On the 2016 Kickers National Rating System published by Kohl's Professional Camps, they note, "He looks like a D1 kicker!" He plans to walk on at the University of Oregon to kick for the football team.
On the soccer pitch, the 6'2", 200-pound athlete was the 2014 Intermountain Conference Co-Player of the Year, starred for several Bend Timbers FC teams and played on a national travel team, Sunrise, out of Florida, for four years.
On the track, he competes in the shot put, discus, triple jump and high jump, finishing ninth last spring in the class 5A state championships in the discus.
And, on hardwood, Emerson shook off the rust from a two-year hiatus to earn a starting spot on the second-ranked Mountain View boys' varsity basketball team.
Oh, and as a youth, he played a little baseball. Well, he had a window of time in the spring. Nowadays, he's also a part-time soccer referee. The multitude of sports, though, is not absent challenges.
"It's hard work," says Emerson. "It's putting in the extra work, more than just practices with the team. You've got to get out there on your own and just work to get better at whatever sport it is. Then, you've got to go out and work on your other sports as well," he says
Needless to say, that can make for a long day.
"I go to school, go to practice 'til around 5:30, then, I usually have an hour and a half with family and dinner. Then, around 7 o'clock, I usually start the homework, try to get that done. Get a little video games in, hopefully, if I finish all my work," he says.
In order to sustain his ability to be at an optimal level as a student and a multi-sport athlete, Emerson places a premium on training and nutrition.
"I do a lot of weight training," he says, "and, I'm constantly drinking water." This, he explains, is so he doesn't cramp up at practice or in games. In addition to the emphasis on drinking plenty of water, he focuses on balanced meals that are high in protein.
Emerson offers straightforward advice for anyone considering participating in multiple sports: "Do it!"
He says it can be tough, but participating year-round in other sports makes one a better athlete for a main sport.
"You get more experience working as a team, you mature more. Overall, it made me into the person who I am, not just the athlete I am," he says.