Zach Howard, senior backup wide receiver for UW-Whitewater, posted this public note of thanks to his Facebook account on Thursday night. It’s an insight into what Division III football players everywhere could feel on the eve of their final career game. We share it here as part of the run-up to tonight’s Stagg Bowl XLI kickoff.
As I lay here on the eve of what will be the last game of football I will ever play, so many emotions are running through me. I think about where I am today and the long path I’ve traveled down to get here and the many people that have helped me along the way.
There are too many to name everyone so I’d like to point out a few that did a little extra. My YMCA coach and counselor Donnie Davis, you always encouraged me and made me feel that I had greatness in me and have me the confidence to express it.
To my freshmen head coach Dale Craft, you put an athletic discipline I’m me that I’ve always kept with me on the competitive fields. To Al Allen, you were and still are always there for me in anything that comes my way. I trust in you if I ever need someone to turn to and take advice from. To my sprint coach Keven Allen you inspired me to take my work ethic to an entirely different level, and developed my focus on making small things important. I have so much respect for you and will always look up to you!
To Tim Hasso, you pushed me every day you coached me, you saw more in me than I did. No matter the level you always pushed me to take the challenge and step up! I am a better competitor for that! To Jim Zebrowski you gave me a second chance to play football after a year off. You helped me learn how the process of a team works, and took my football IQ to another level. You’re one of the best football minds I’ve ever met!
To Steve Dinkel, you were there for me every step of my development as a Warhawk. You got on me when I was down, and praised me when I earned it! I respect your passion for the game and it has made me love the game that much more! To Coach Nelly, you gave me humility, and kept me humble! No matter what I did you always coached me to do it better. And thank you for everything you did to help me off the field as well!
To Mitchell Moore You have always had my back, you kept my confidence level where it was supposed to be even when I was feeling less than whole, your an outstanding coach and will go far in this world! I look up too you so much! To Lance Leipold my head coach, thank you for giving me the opportunity to play football at the collegiate level. You put up with so much from me through the years and I greatly appreciate the patience and wisdom you’ve given to me.
To every teammate I’ve ever had at any level, I remember so many great times I can’t even begin to recount them. I hope every single one of you are doing well in life today! To my best friend and brother Levell Coppage you single handedly made me as good as I am today. No matter how good I ever thought I was you were better, and that motivated me to work harder to match your ability. You’ve been a great friend to me since we were kids! Few people I’m this world can say they are still as close to their lifelong best friend the way we are, and it won’t ever die! I love you bro!
To my family, I hope I’ve made you all proud and I thank everyone for all the support I’ve received through my childhood and as I’ve matured. Most especially, to my parents! My dad, Tim Howard most fathers who are as far apart as we are don’t have much of a relationship, we talk just about every night. And I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve met whose fathers aren’t in their lives and I thank you for all that you have done for me and to be in my life! And finally to my mom, Robyn Ziegler you are the best mother anyone could ask for, you’ve never missed a single sporting event I’ve been involved in! You’ve given your life to put mine first every single time and no amount of thank-you’s can express my gratitude. I love all of you and appreciate everything!!
It’s a surreal feeling to know that tomorrow night will be my final time putting a helmet on my head! I love this game and have done everything I can to help this team! I will always be a Huskie and always be a Warhawk! This is the end of such a huge chapter I’m my life and I can’t wait to see what’s in my future! Words cannot describe how bitter sweet tomorrow will be for me!
To play my last game for a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP to earn a 4th RING! Nothing will be better than to go out on top!!
– Zach Howard, senior wide receiver, UW-Whitewater