Zach Peck is blessed with a multitude of options as he enters his senior year of high school.
The Windsor High School two-sport standout athlete can opt for a career in the military and play football at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., or wait on scholarship offers to play the sport at another college.
One thing Peck, 18, knows he’ll be doing is packing a bag or two and heading to San Antonio after Christmas to join nine other student-athletes from across the country who were selected as finalists for the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence.
“I’m the only kid from Colorado. This is a big deal. At first I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was,” said Peck, the son of Terisa and Bruce Peck of Windsor. “It was really cool when I found out.”
According to a news release from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the program, in its second year, was first introduced by Hall of Famer and former Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe at the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It highlights the achievements in and out of the classroom of student-athletes from all over the country.
The 6-3, 225-pound Peck, who plays football and basketball for the Wizards, will be recognized in the fall by a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a formal ceremony in front of the Windsor High School student body. Wizards football coach Chris Jones informed Peck at the end of the last school year that he was going to help Peck with an application regarding the award.
Peck and the other nine finalists — male and female — will travel to the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl game in San Antonio, which will be held in the Alamodome Jan. 4, 2014, and participate in various activities. Windsor senior center Trenton “Tiny” Noller has been nominated to play in the nationally televised bowl game and will find out later in the year whether he made the team. The winner of the Award for Excellence will be announced during the bowl’s awards ceremony on Jan. 3, 2014. The inaugural Award for Excellence was awarded last year to Nate Lowis from Sacred-Heart Griffin High School in Springfield, Ill.
The Award for Excellence program focuses on athletic achievement, excellence in academics and community involvement. Peck is the only Colorado student-athlete to receive the nomination. Other student-athletes among the 10 are from Michigan, Indiana, Arizona, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas and Kentucky.
“It’s extremely exciting. All of my coaches, my teammates and my parents made this all possible and for me to be able to achieve this award and to be able to do all this cool stuff is really amazing,” Peck said. “Starting my freshmen year, I would never think that I’d be at the point I am now.”
Peck, who will be a starter for the second straight year at defensive end for the Wizards, carries a 3.8 grade-point average and takes advanced-placement and college-level classes at Windsor High School. A member of the National Honor Society who helps coach his little brother’s football and basketball teams, Peck and his dad are involved with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc., which according to its website is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. Peck’s dad served 22 years in the Navy.
Windsor High School athletic director Mark Kanagy said Peck is deserving of the national recognition.
“He is such a great kid. He is a leader, hard working, dedicated and intelligent,” Kanagy said. “He’s an all-around good kid in every sense of the word. He doesn’t take anything for granted. He has that mentality to choose to pursue the Naval Academy, and I think that is something that would very much fit within his character. He has that leadership and determination. It’s a cool thing for him, and a cool thing for our school, too.”
Peck attended a football camp at the Naval Academy on June 22 and turned some heads.
“I recently received a scholarship offer from the Naval Academy for football. They brought me up into the head coach’s office after the camp and offered me a scholarship,” Peck said. “I’ve been in contact with some other schools, so I’m going to wait out until the end of my senior year of football, and then I’ll make my decision before signing day.”
Peck said Northern Colorado, Colorado, South Dakota State and Boise State have also shown interest in him.
He is such a great kid. He is a leader, hard working, dedicated and intelligent. He’s an all-around good kid in every sense of the word. He doesn’t take anything for granted.
Windsor High School Athletic Director