The vast majority of high school athletes never compete at the next level. Zach Gonsor is not only among the minority who will, he is among the extreme few who will compete in multiple sports.
The recent Aberdeen Central graduate will participate in soccer and tennis at Mount Marty University.
He said being in multiple sports will allow him to meet more people and enhance his college experience.
“Most people think that college is all about education and getting your degree. You don’t really think about the fun part of college,” Gonsor said. “I feel like it will give me that advantage to just have fun in college.”
Gonsor won’t be the first member of his family to compete in sports at MMU. His sister, Haley, is a member of the Lancers women’s tennis squad.
“She is a big influence on me. I look up to her in most of the things she does,” Gonsor said. “Most of the other colleges I was looking at didn’t give the sports opportunities. I like how Mount Marty has both soccer and tennis.”
He said the university has the spiritual aspect he was looking for, as well.
When Gonsor puts on his soccer uniform this fall, there promises to be a major adjustment. He will be one of just two South Dakotans on a squad filled with players from all across the world, featuring more than a dozen different countries.
“It’s going to be a lot work trying to figure out how everything goes,” Gonsor said, “but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Gonsor has met most of the members and calls his soon to be teammates a “bunch of goobers who love to play soccer.”
Gonsor has also met some of his future tennis teammates, one of which will become his new doubles partner in the spring.
“I’ve played with some of them before,” Gonsor said of his previous trips to the campus. “I know most of the people that are there.”
One of those is former Central teammate Alex Tennant.
Gonsor wrapped up a productive career with the Golden Eagles his senior season, playing on the Eastern South Dakota Conference winning soccer squad last fall, and earning All-ESD status with his doubles partner Gabe Goetz in tennis this spring.
“I achieved something that I never thought I could, so that’s pretty good for me,” Gonsor said. “I felt like I went out with a bang.”
He said that there are certain characteristics that carry over from one sport to the other. Training for one ended up benefitting both sports.
“I found myself training a lot to make the varsity team for soccer. I trained myself to get faster for speed which helped with getting to the ball in tennis and soccer,” Gonsor said. “Lifting also helps get more power on the ball and also helps a lot with speed and strength.”
However, the biggest change in Gonsor’s game this past season was not something he trained for physically. It was his mental mindset.
By his own admission, Gonsor knew that something needed to change.
“I used to have a terrible mindset back in my early years of high school tennis. You can even ask (Central coach Trent) Kurtz that. I always got down on myself. I never had a positive attitude. Once I started losing, I lost the match,” Gonsor said. “This year Kurtz saw something different in me. I got down 2-6 against a Huron kid and I ended up coming back 10-6 and beating him.”
The improved mindset is part of the maturation process that Gonsor hopes will benefit him in college.
“I realize you can’t pout about every match. You win some, you lose some. And after you can’t sit there and mope around,” Gonsor said. “There’s always a fight you have to put in. If there’s a fight in you, you’re going to be a much better player.”
Gonsor said both soccer and tennis are team sports where teammates can pick one another up if somebody is having a down day.
“You can’t have a disrespectful attitude. You have to have your hopes up,” Gonsor said. “You have to have good teamwork. If you’re like the only one that’s down and you can’t do anything, you’re going to let your team down, you’re going to let your coaches down. You have to have a positive mindset.”
Gonsor is now ready to combine his proven talents on the pitch and on the courts with his improved mental state to see how far he can take his games at the next level.
“I’m ready for it. I hope I can at least compete with some of the kids and hope that I can play the best that I can,” Gonsor said. “I’m really looking forward to facing better people in college.”
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