Freshman makes up for height with heart on the field

Nicolet Danese

Although he’s 4’ 10”, freshman Zachary Burke brings dedication and hard work to the junior varsity football team

It’s Thursday. The junior varsity football team is preparing for their second preseason game against Prospect. Inside the locker room, the players prepare themselves for one last practice before the game. Outside the locker room, a player eagerly waits for one of his teammates to unlock the door.

Although often teased for his 4’ 10” stature, freshman Zachary Burke is essential to the team’s chemistry. His teammates have nicknamed him “Rudy” after a Notre Dame football player who surprised his team with a sack during the last game of the season. Like Rudy, Burke continues to surprise his teammates each practice with how much effort and dedication he puts into the sport.
Freshman Zachary Burke compliments his 4’ 10” stature with a smile at junior varsity football practice. Photo by Dickson Tsai.
“Height doesn’t matter that much in football as long as he can commit himself. He brings heart to the team. [Burke] is always out there to have fun and try his best,“ sophomore captain Peter Stern said. “He gets excited and fills the team with energy that makes us all want to do better.”

As the “small guy” on the team, his height often means he must push harder to keep up with his taller teammates. However, Burke’s stature does pose certain advantages. Weighing 92 pounds, Burke may not be able to tackle others as easily as his teammates, but his height gets him noticed on and off the field.

“Since I’m smaller, I’m more agile,” Burke said, “People don’t always see me coming.”

Walking on the field with a smile on his face almost everyday, Burke aims to be a better player than he was at the start of the season.

“I just like being with my friends, playing football and even getting hit,” said Burke.

Heart and hard work can get you a long way.

“[Burke] does get a lot of jokes [about his height], but the thing is he doesn’t take them seriously and laughs it off,” said Stern.“It makes practice that much more amusing, which is awesome.”