Mr. ZIP Award personifies Elder athletics

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Members of the 2021-2022 football team at the banquet where the MR.ZIP award is given.

If you know anything about Elder, than you know what great traditions lie at the school. Whether that be through sport activities, Elderfest, Glee Club and band, or the long tradition of relatives going to school here. Elder is known for having one of the richest traditions across all high schools.

In many cases Elder is known for a powerhouse school in athletes. Many know the famous Pit at Elder as it is one of the Top Ten places to watch high school football in all of America. That is why the players bring in thousands of people each home game to watch the Panthers play. Because it’s tradition.

However, have you ever wondered how these players are rewarded for their efforts on the field? Each year Elder gives their players a banquet to celebrate their accomplishments. In this banquet the coaches talk about the season and usually give a quick speech about the seniors.

At the end of the banquet Coach Ramsey reads off the winners of each category that the players voted for at the end of the year. These categories consist of MVP of the team, Most Improved, Mr. Panther (one who exemplifies what an Elder man is), Best Offensive Player, Best Defensive Player, and lastly Mr. Zip.

Many of you reading this may not know about that last one. However, it is an extremely special honor for whoever wins the Mr. Zip award. I had the chance to ask our athletic director, Mr. Espelage, what exactly this award his. He said, “The Mr. Zip award stands for Zeal- energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause, Inspiration-process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, and Perseverance- persistence in doing something despite difficulty. This award recognizes what that player brings to the team beyond just how he plays on the field or court.  This person is consistent with their effort, in practice and in games, when your winning and when you are losing, in-season and out-of-season.”

It is clear that this award means a great deal to Elder and to win this is something that someone should be extremely proud of. I then started wondering when this idea originated and Mr. Espelage told me doesn’t know the exact date, but it was at Elder in the 90’s when he played sports. This award has been a long lasting tradition at Elder that many people do not know about.

Therefore, I think it’s important to give recognition to those who lived out these attributes on their sports team and won the award this season. The people who won the Mr. Zip award for their sports this season are the following: Logan Rieder- Cross country, Luke Corey- Golf, Nicholas Paff- Football, Josh Fieger- Soccer, Ben Johnson- Swimming, Charlie James- Hockey, Mikey Kirch and Drew Busam- Basketball, and lastly Drew Magness- Wrestling. These guys deserve to win this award and deserve to be recognized by their peers.

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It was really special to win it and get voted by the guys on the team to win the award. Especially after the season ended the way it did for me it was cool to still be a part of the team and get recognized. ”

— Nicholas Paff

Evidently, my brother, Ross Hambleton, also won the Mr. Zip award as a senior here at Elder. I had the chance to ask him what it meant to him. He told me, “It meant a lot because it felt like my hard work was noticed and appreciated even though I didn’t get the playing time I anticipated. Being a captain, you are expected to be a leader on and off the field. When I got injured, I was unable to lead on the field. Even when I recovered, I didn’t get the playing time I wanted, so I felt like my voice wasn’t as impactful as some of the other captains. It was pretty discouraging but receiving Mr. ZIP at the end of the year served as a reminder that you can still contribute when you aren’t on the field for every single down. It was a great award to receive given my circumstances.”

Even today winning the Mr. Zip award still lives on with him and is something he is very proud of. It is an award that gives you a sense of being a leader in this world. I know winning that award for my brother has impacted him for the better and has changed his viewpoint on himself.

I also had the chance to ask Nicholas Paff, 2021-2022 Football Mr. Zip Award winner, the same question and he said, “It was really special to win it and get voted by the guys on the team to win the award. Especially after the season ended the way it did for me it was cool to still be a part of the team and get recognized.”

It’s obvious that these guys both felt really lucky and thankful to be named Mr. Zip’s. It’s something that is of great honor and should never go unnoticed.