"Finding Success and Overcoming Adversity"
Retired Defender Seattle Sounders
Introduced by: Kaj Pedersen
Zach shared his amazing life story with BBRC. He and his younger brother were born and raised in Maui. They were from a single family home, but Zach also came to appreciate the benefit of living on Maui with his family and the extended family around him. His extended family included the coaches that became his father figures or spending time mentoring Zach as he grew up.
Zach’s first job was picking pineapples. Zach’s mother wanted him to do this work, so he would learn the valuable lesson of applying himself to avoid undertaking this type of work in the future. Zach left Maui to attend school at Gonzaga University. The big adjustment to the cold took a little time for Zach to get used to after the warmer climes on Maui. At Gonzaga, the Zach took more an interest in soccer, although his initial foray into the sport was not greeted with enthusiasm. The assistant coach for Gonzaga told Zach he wasn’t soccer material but invited him to the tryouts. It was as result of his willingness to persevere in soccer that led to Zach securing a small scholarship. After this, Zach stuck with the sport.
On his journey Zach also tried out for the Portland soccer team and again told he was not soccer material. Something he took on and continued to persevere with the game. Meanwhile, while in pursuit of his soccer dream, Zach was also realistic to recognize that he had to find work. So, he pursed his teaching credentials and graduated with a math degree and secured his teaching certificate.
However, soccer was still the driver for him. While he was a teacher, he went to try out for a small unassuming team called the Sounders in Seattle, where he tried out. Zach was offered a small contract to play for the team. Then he would work as a teacher during the week (Spokane) and play soccer over the weekend in Seattle. He was paid for every game he played, and that led to many tough conversations with his wife on a few occasions.
In 2009, there was a new soccer team that formed in Seattle, the Seattle Sounders. At this time Zach was a young dad with two kids. He really didn’t think he’d make the team, but he continued to work hard in the selection process and watched many of his friends get dropped. Zach continued to remain. Then three days before the first soccer game Zach was offered a contract to join the Seattle Sounders!
At the time the team did not know how Seattle was going to accept the team. Zach was blown away at how packed the stadium was at every game. Over the years, he has been impressed with the growth of the fans in support of the team. In 2015, Zach decided to retire as he realized it was time time to look for the next challenge in his life after the Sounders. The Sounders had other thoughts and asked Zach to come back for another year.
In 2016 the coach changed, the assistant coach become coach and mid year the team went from being the worst soccer team in Sounders history to becoming the greatest team in Sounders history – securing the MLS title.
When Zach looks back on his career he is truly thankful for being able to live and play soccer for over 15 years in the same city, for his supporters, his family and extended family.
Slalom Consulting is the company that he now works for, helping other businesses to form the relationships and collaboration needed to grow.
About the Speaker
When Brian Schmetzer says he was there for the start of Zach Scott’s professional career, it’s no exaggeration. It was an open tryout for anyone interested in joining the USL version of the Seattle Sounders back in 2002. These weren’t invited players taking part, just any guy off the street who wanted to catch the eye of Schmetzer, the coach of the club, and possibly have a part-time career as a professional soccer player.
“The game was terrible because it was a bunch of (tryouts), it was on Memorial Stadium on the old turf, narrow, the balls are being lumped (in) and Zach is crushing every single header,” recalled Schmetzer, the current coach of the MLS version of the Sounders. “. Zach was truly an open tryout. He was a name on the paper.”
That was the first memory Schmetzer had of his center defender. Fifteen years later, and after over 350 career appearances through different incarnations of the Sounders, Zach retired in December at age 36. And he went out with his team on top!
Zach's comments - “I was asked to do a job when I was signed to the Sounders and I’ve made sure that every day I’ve come out here and done that job,” Scott said. “So the fact that it’s being celebrated, me just doing my job, is a bit ridiculous but in the same sense, it’s also gives my family a chance to come together maybe one last time around soccer.”