Zenner honored

On Tuesday senior SDSU running back Zach Zenner received an honor shared by only 21 other college football players – being named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

Zenner thought he simply was joining fellow athletes – running back Reggie Gandy, tight end Cam Jones, swimmer Nicole Grimit and basketball guard Chloe Cornemann – to speak at Hillcrest Elementary School about courage and citizenship, but at the end of the ceremony Allstate representative Dennis Arp presented him with the award.

“It’s a great honor,” Zenner said. “What’s odd about this award is that at the end of the day service isn’t about recognition, it’s doing it because that’s part of life – serving others.”

Zenner has played a role in many service activities during his time at SDSU including the Summit League Food Fight and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Project Joy.

“I think service allows athletes to give back to the Brookings community that’s given so much to them,” Zenner said. “All the support we’ve received here has been incredible. Just to be able to feed back into that is pretty special.”

To Zenner, the lifestyle of a servant comes as second nature. He was among 25 SDSU student athletes who spent their 2014 spring break building houses in Jamaica.

“I really think it’s how you’re supposed to live,” Zenner said. “Also I think my faith – my Christian faith – and my identity in Jesus Christ is really another one of the driving forces behind service. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate servant. As a Christian you’re trying to model him as best you can.”

Head coach John Stiegelmeier said he wrote a brief letter for Zenner to be under consideration for the award and that what Zenner has done made it easy to write.

“Having Zach get this award is just one more thing you can point to young players and say that’s a picture of how you’re supposed to be,” Stiegelmeier said. “Can everybody do that? No, but we can all try to do that. So we’ll use the story about Zach and what he’s done in all phases for a long, long time.”

Stiegelmeier said that no matter what function the team our athletic department puts on, Zenner is always there.

“Zach is no different than so many student athletes in our programs and other programs,” Stiegelmeier said about Zenner’s positive story in the midst of so many negative stories about athletes. “Unfortunately we only hear about a ton of the negative stuff, but it is a treat to have Zach get this award. It’s a treat for our program. It’s a treat to see Zach honored because he is so good in so many ways, especially his servant heart.”

Zenner will be honored along with the 21 other honorees at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015.