Surrounded by friends, coaches, teachers and family – lots of family – Shadle Park defensive lineman Zach Krotzer formally announced Wednesday in the high school’s resource room that he signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his football career at the University of Idaho.
Krotzer, the Greater Spokane League 3A defensive MVP this season and two-way first-team lineman, joined Colville’s All-Northeast A League offensive lineman Jory Dotts as locals signing on with the Vandals during the early signing period for football players.
Shadle Park athletic director Bruce Hafferkamp joked that Krotzer’s favorite food is Idaho potato chips and noted that Idaho mascot Joe Vandal often wears No. 54, Krotzer’s jersey number.
“We have a rich tradition of football at Shadle Park, but haven’t had too many Division I players lately,” Hafferkamp said. “It’s special when it happens.”
Krotzer has an appreciation for his place in the school’s football history.
“Rypien is just such a big name around here,” he said while standing underneath a poster bearing that name. “I’m honored to be mentioned with them. Being able to play at Shadle and stay at Shadle and playing Division I in college is a big deal.”
“It’s really neat to see that the hard work and the things we’re trying to do here are paying off,” coach Jim Mace said. “It’s been a while since Brett (Rypien) that we’ve had a D-I guy.”
Krotzer was joined at the ceremony by no fewer than a dozen family members, including his parents Dan and Wendy, older brother Luke – an All-GSL performer at Shadle Park who played at Santa Barbara City College in California his freshman season in 2018 – and his aunt, Angela Hayes, who is battling cancer.
Even Krotzer’s Pop Warner coaches were on hand for the festivities.
Things got a little emotional when family members were allowed to address the gathering.
“I have a lot of support here,” Krotzer said. “My folks, my aunt and my uncle been here since day one. My whole family’s just my biggest supporters ever, and it just feels good to make them proud. I’m just the person I am today because of them.”
Krotzer said he was proud of his athletic achievement, but more for getting his grades up to an acceptable level to participate at the next level. He took full responsibility for underachieving early in his high school career.
“I screwed around a little bit freshman, sophomore year,” he said. “I didn’t think grades were important. But junior and senior year I realized how important grades are, and if you don’t do good in school, you can’t go to the college you want to go to.
“So I was happy that I got my GPA high enough so I can play at the University of Idaho. The coaches saw how hard I worked.”
Mace said Krotzer’s effort was noticed.
“As a student, he really focused this year a lot on just doing well,” he said. “And I really think that the college thing kind of helped him. We hoped he would have done it a little earlier, but he’s turned a lot of things around. He’s been taking extra classes on the side just to continue to raise his ability to be ready for college, so it shows how dedicated he is.”
On the field, Mace said Krotzer’s “wild side” helped out.
“He is probably the best defensive lineman in the six years I’ve been here that’s played for us,” Mace said. “And that’s saying a lot because his brother and a couple kids that graduated last year were very good.
“He’s got a mean streak that at times – it’s hard in practice for me to kind of get through – but it’s also what makes him really good and will give him the opportunity to be good, I think, at the next level.”