For new parents looking to find good mentors on how to raise a truly amazing son, may I direct you to Tania Lynn and Dave Hauser? I can’t honestly speak to you about all of their children, but if their son Zach is any indication, this is a set of parents who really understand how to raise an outstanding young man who is the kind of guy that makes everyone around him feel a little better about life. Does it sound like exaggeration? You judge for yourself.
The Macalester Scots senior defensive lineman has starred on the football field since he first put on a pair of cleats in the fifth grade. Zach had been playing soccer to that point, but wanted to give football a chance, and soon it became his passion. “It was fun; I liked hitting people,” Hauser explains with a smile.
Zach went onto high school where, as a freshman, he was already being recognized for his skills and talents on the football field. He began the season on the junior varsity squad, but by season’s end he had joined the varsity team. It was not only his ability on the field that was making him a star, but his willingness to play anywhere the coaching staff had a need.
“So coming in my freshman year I was placed on JV right away. I was kick returner, defensive end, tight end, and also suited up for some varsity games. That season we made the playoffs, and I suited up for the playoffs. Going on from there I just went wherever the team needed me.”
By his senior year Zach was starring at the Port Washington, WI school. He was playing both tight end and defensive end and made All-State honors at both positions. He was playing exceptionally well, but wasn’t taking all the credit for his success.
“My senior year I just really stood out playing defensive end and tight end. It helped that my best friend was the quarterback. We had that connection and we really exploited each other’s good offensive talents on the field.”
This is the great inside joke about Zach Hauser. His acknowledgement that he “stood out” may be the most self-aggrandizing thing anyone ever hears come out of his mouth. He was a star on the gridiron, yet wasn’t interested in touting his own abilities in anyway, something he admits has just become part of his character.
“I didn’t see my own talent in myself until other people pointed it out to me. I don’t really like to exploit myself or to tell a lot about me.”
In fact, he often is quick to point out that it is his teammates, fans, his family, coaches, and just about anyone else he can give credit to that has helped to mold him. “It is not only me, but the others around me that have really pushed me to where I am and where I am going to be. I can’t take credit for all that they have done to help me.”
Don’t be mistaken. This is not false modesty in anyway. Zach Hauser is simply not interested in patting himself on the back. To him, his play is just the result of what others have done to help him to reach a high level of performance, and he clearly is not going to take credit for that.
Zach was not only an exceptional athlete on the field, but was a premium performer in the classroom as well (he does go to Macalester College after all). That kind of talent is going to draw attention from scouts and schools, which it did from the University of Wisconsin, Central Michigan and Western Michigan, who were working hard to try to lure the two-way star to their school.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Zach could have probably gone to just about any Division-I school in the country. To be quite candid, there are probably not many Macalester Scots players who have their own Yahoo! recruiting profile.
He could have had his pick of the litter, but Zach wanted to go to a school that more suited his interests and character. In his junior year in high school he found that place – Macalester College.
“My junior year my mom and I came to watch Macalester in the Metrodome. I talked with a lot of the parents and really felt like this was a great place for me. After the game I got the chance to meet Coach J (Macalester Scots Football Coach Tony Jennison). Everything about the school was what I was looking for. I went home that night and knew I wanted to go to Macalester College.”
Anyone surprised by that decision simply doesn’t know Zach Hauser very well. It is likely that he could have starred at a school like Central Michigan or Wisconsin, and his name would have been bantered around on Saturday afternoons by television announcers with each tackle or pass reception. That wasn’t what the defensive lineman wanted. He wanted a first rate education at a place where he could feel like he was a part of something really special, and the Fighting Scots offered that very experience to him.
“The football team is a very tight knit group. We are like a family here and I love that part of the team. It is one of the things we pride ourselves on, in being close to each other. I think that helps in football games as well. It is just a family atmosphere and the academics are one of a kind.”
While Macalester has offered Zach that incredible academic experience, it has also given him the ability to do what he loves most on the football field – hit people. “I just like hitting people. Playing defensive lineman I get to hit someone on every play. I am always in the thick of things, causing havoc and ruining an offensive lineman’s day.”
On the field Hauser is a beast who is a matchup nightmare for most offensive lineman. He not only has good size (6-3, 290), but has exceptional skill and instincts. In his first three years at the school his play improved steadily each season, as he became an anchor at the defensive end position for the team. In 2013 he set a personal high for tackles with 29, and last season he nearly matched that (27), but improved his number of unassisted tackles by two. That effort earned him All-Conference honors.
One of his goals this season was to eclipse all of his previous marks. Each season Zach sets a personal goal to outperform his previous season, and his numbers are one way that he measures the improvement of his play. By that standard, he has already eclipsed his goals and the Scots are just four games into their season.
Hauser already has 23 tackles this season, 16 of them unassisted. He has broken up two passes, blocked a kick and made four tackles for losses. All in just four games! At the rate he is going this season he will likely have bigger numbers than his last two seasons combined, and will likely find himself earning All-American honors, another goal of his.
His play on the field is only part of what has made him such a key piece to the success of his team this season. The Scots saw several of their key defensive stars graduate this past year, leaving a giant void on the defense and in the locker room. This was a team needing someone to step up, and Zach has always embraced the idea that when there is a need he will be happy to do his part to fill it.
“I have always been told that I had to fill the shoes of the guys who came before me. This year I really didn’t know what to expect because we lost a lot of key players in a lot of key roles. But I thought we had the guys behind them that could really step up and fill those roles. I think up to this point we have done that, and as the season progresses we will come together more and be just as successful as last year.”
The leadership role, he acknowledges, is a challenge, because that is not generally how he operates. Yet, he knows that he has the tools to push his teammates to greater success.
“I am not a big vocal leader, so I like to speak with actions. I just try to do my best at all times, and just lead the team in working hard and having a good work ethic. To just keep going until the end. I just try to push everyone to persevere and keep working hard and everything will be fine.”
The most special part of knowing Zach Hauser is that the guy who is dominating on the football field on Saturday is not interested in special treatment during the week. He came to Macalester College to gain a great education, and that means he wants to be treated like every other student on campus.
“I am not one of those guys who wants to be seen as a big guy around campus. I am just a guy who goes to class. A normal guy who doesn’t want any special treatment. I just want to be treated like everyone else.”
That kind of humility is seen in his personal favorite saying of Coach Jennison. The Scots Coach pushes his players to “Be respectful, be responsible, and have great relationships.” That is the focus of Zach Hauser in his everyday life.
“I would like people to see me as the same throughout every day of my life. I don’t want to be on anyone’s bad side or have anyone on my bad side. I want to have those good relationships and be a person people feel comfortable coming up and talking to.”
Zach is clearly that kind of guy. He is the kind of person that makes other people feel welcome and important. That is until he takes the field. Then the beast is ready to battle.
“I want people to know I am a nice guy, but they can also see that on Saturday I can flip a switch and be ready to get nasty. They can see that I play hard, I can get mean, I can get nasty.”
And Zach’s favorite part about playing football? “The best feeling is when the quarterback tries to get away from you and they can’t escape you. That is one of the greatest feelings on the field. They think they are going to get away, but no way,” he explains laughing.
An outstanding athlete; a bright young man doing well academically; humble and kind to others; the kind of person who reaches out to others and sets a great example for others. Could he get any better? Amazingly he can.
As much as he loves to build those amazing relationships, no relationship means more to him than the one has with his parents, especially his mom.
“My mom is just amazing. She is basically my best friend. I can tell her anything. She can tell me anything. We can bounce ideas and feelings off of each other. Everyone loves their mother, and I know my mom is just the best.
“My dad is amazing as well. He has really helped me to grow as a man. He comes to all my games with my mom and is such a big supporter of me.”
Now you see that the Zach Hauser legend is not a myth or an exaggeration at all. He has taken advantage of his opportunities at Macalester College to reach an incredible level of success, both on and off the field. He has proven to be a guy that people like to be around, and who genuinely cares about others. Plus, he is the kind of son that any parent would be honored to call their son.
We live in a society were personal bloviating seems to be all the rage. Where the vast majority of people can’t wait to take credit for anything they can attach their name to. At Macalester College there is a young man who is not worried about any of that. Zach Hauser is concerned with being the best man, son, teammate, and friend that he can be, and is more than happy to ignore the accolades. He is the kind of man that changes society for the better but, sadly, we may never know that he is doing so. After all, he sure isn’t telling anyone about it.
By Robert Pannier
Photos Courtesy of Jody Russell Photography and Tania Lynn