By Tim Chambers
You won’t find his name as the leading scorer or rebounder, and sometimes he doesn’t get in the game at all. But Zack Winters is a special player on the Longhorns’ basketball team and many kids today could benefit by following his lead.
Winters dream was, and he’s getting to do so in his senior season. He touched on what basketball has meant to him since growing up as a child.
“I’ve been playing since I was in kindergarten and love it,” said Winters. “I can remember playing on my Fischer Price goal as a kid and how I wanted to be a part of the high school team. I never gave up on chasing my dream of one day making the varsity. Now I’m getting to be a part of it. It’s something I enjoy doing every day.”
Winters is listed on the roster as a 5’7 guard. His dad (Nathan Winters) was an outstanding baseball player for the Longhorns, and his mom was one of their top tennis players in 89. His sister Natalie is one of the best players on the girl’s squad so success can be found throughout the Winters family.
Zack knows he’ll never be a superstar player, but he’s ok with where he’s at on the team.
“I won’t be playing college basketball because my skill levels are not what they need to be. I’m too short for that. I just want to have fun my senior season and try and make the best of it. I don’t take being on the team for granted. I’m grateful to practice with my friends every day and wear a Longhorns uniform. It means the world to me.”
Getting this far didn’t come easy for Winters. He didn’t make the team as a seventh grader and was cut after his second tryout as an eighth grader. But that didn’t stop him from chasing his dream to be on the Longhorns’ varsity roster one day.
“It was tough not making the team because I wanted to play so bad,” he said. “It made me work harder on my game and be on the grind all summer long. I played on a bunch of travel teams to try and get better. I stayed in the gym and then school ball started. I was given the opportunity, and that was extra special. I try and do what I can to earn my spot on the roster.”
Winters tried his hand at football but didn’t like the game. He is also an excellent bow shooter like his dad who shoots on the professional tour.
Basketball has had its ups and downs. The senior leader touched on those.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride at times. I didn’t play much the first two years but got a lot of playing time last year on the junior varsity. Now I’m getting a few minutes late in games when the coach can afford to play
me. I’m busting my tail when I do get in the game and happy when I get an opportunity.”
Winters is proud of being a good shooter and practice player emphasizing that all his teammates had been supportive as he tries to support them in return. He recently scored in back to back games which brought the crowd to its feet. It was a special time for him as he hopes to start a game one day.
“It felt good hearing the crowd cheer and all. I’ve never started a varsity game in my life, so that’s something I’ve always dreamed about. I’ll welcome it if that should ever happen. But making the team is more special.”
Winters loves to support his sister Natalie who is a key player on the girl’s squad. He’s also a big fan of Coach Austin Atwood and the team’s best player Blake Atwood.
“Coach Atwood, Coach David Arnold, and all my coaches treat me with a lot of respect. I have so much love and respect for them too because they make me feel like I belong here. They give me a chance whenever they can to get out on the floor. I try hard to do what they ask because I don’t want to disappoint them.”
Winters said his dad had influenced his life because of his work ethic.
“He finds time to be at all of our games and still run a business and shoot a bow professionally. My mom is the same way and works two jobs.”
Winters hopes to take over his dad’s business one day and plans on going to Culinary School. He also plans on watching his buddy Blake
Atwood play college basketball.
“I look up to Blake because of what he does not only on the court but off of it. He’s taken the time to help me improve my game when he didn’t have to. I hope he goes on and plays Division One because nobody deserves it more. I’ll be behind him every step of the way. “
Nobody deserves being on the varsity more than Winters either. He defines what a team player truly is.