If you knew ‘Coach Z,’ you’ll never forget him

Published 1:05 am Monday, November 5, 2007

As many people have heard we lost a friend this past week, Hank Zizzi. “Coach Z,” as he was known by many here in Monterey, touched a lot of lives. When I arrived here in 2003 to minister with Monterey Church of Christ, I was anxious to get involved with the community. The one thing that I knew I could do was help coach baseball. I remember being very nervous to talk to Coach Zizzi, because I didn’t want to impose on his team. Unlike some coaches, he was eager for the help.

He always told me, “Preacher, you may see something that I don’t.” All he cared about was the players getting better, not keeping any perceived power or control. Coach Zizzi was really fired up about his 18th year of coaching baseball here in Monterey. I believe that in the past 17 years he has won 12 district titles — quite a feat.

Every year that I’ve been here and for many before, there has always been the expectation of winning. No one expected to lose any game with Coach Z at the helm.

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Two days before he died I saw him at the gym at MHS and he again asked if I was going to help him this year. He said to me, “Preacher, I need you to help us this year. We’ve got to find us a catcher.” I told him I would, but I also reminded him that the season was about four months away. That didn’t matter to him, he was fired up and ready to go. This was going to be a special season, and we had no time to waste.

This season will be special, even without “Z”, because the boys, especially our seniors, are fired up to play for him. This baseball season will be dedicated to him and Miss Sandra, who never missed a game. The past four years I’ve always looked forward to coaching baseball with Coach Z. This year will be different, but we’ll play and coach with more passion than ever before.

If you knew Coach Z you’ll never forget him, and none of us would want to.

Billy Wallace, ministe