Deuce Zak ’20, the ultimate team player

Plank Article Nick Venegas ’22

It’s often said that for a team to reach success, each individual must subordinate their personal desires for the betterment of the team. Deuce Zak ’20 perfectly embodies this saying. 

An actively involved student at Jesuit High School Sacramento, Deuce is known by many for his role as team manager of the basketball team, a position he’s served since his freshman year. 

While he’s been team manager for all four years, managing wasn’t his first choice of activity when he got to Jesuit. Deuce wanted to be a player.

After being cut from the team as a freshman, Deuce was crushed. Hoping to still be a part of the team, Deuce became team manager. 

“Deciding to become a basketball manager was a tough decision for me freshman year,” Deuce said. “I really, really wanted to make the team that year, and getting cut destroyed me. However, I still wanted to be involved with the team in some way, so I decided that being a manager was the next best thing.” 

Through his work as team manager, Deuce discovered his true passion, coaching.

“As a whole, my experience as a manager allowed me to find what I wanted to do in my life, coaching sports,” Deuce said. “Being able to manage basketball was one of the things that motivated me to work hard in everything I do at Jesuit, and it was the activity I looked forward to more than anything else, especially this year.”

Being team manager is a big responsibility. Head Varsity Basketball Coach Tim Kelly believes Deuce was a great fit for the job. 

“As a manager, Deuce is proactive,” Coach Kelly said. “He anticipates what needs to happen and does them before being asked. There are so many things to manage as a basketball coach. Deuce was great at taking some of those things off of my plate. Deuce will be hard to replace in our basketball program and at Jesuit. Well rounded, thoughtful, positive person that was a joy to have on our team.”

Coach Kelly also appreciates Deuce’s dedication to the team.

“Deuce is one of the most selfless people I know,” Coach Kelly said. “He is able to go beyond individual accolades and focus on the team. And, he loves Jesuit and genuinely celebrates the success of others.”

Deuce brought the same unselfishness to his work on the senior retreat team. Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Ms. Kelly Barnes is grateful for Deuce’s generosity. 

“Deuce Zak is the real deal,”  Ms. Barnes said. “What you see is what you get. I think this is one of the things that makes him so approachable not only for members of the Senior Retreat Team but also for any of the sophomores and juniors that have been on retreats he led. He laughs easily, often at himself, and uses sports metaphors to bring his message to life.”

As his senior year comes to a close, Deuce is thankful for the rigor of his classes and the support of faculty and staff members. While he’s grateful for many in the Jesuit community, Deuce credits Coach Kelly and Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach Jon Rotz ’92 for having the greatest impact on him.

“Being able to watch Coach Kelly and Coach Rotz lead my teammates to two magical seasons that had a league title and a playoff run filled with excitement and fun was something I’ll never forget,” Deuce said. “I hope that one day I can be a great coach like them, and maybe even make it all the way to the NBA.”

As Deuce Zak proceeds into the next chapter of his life at John Carroll University, there’s no doubt that he will bring to his University the same generosity and altruism that many at Jesuit knew him for.