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Cocalico’s Rissler earns scholarship from L-L officials
By: JOHN CRAWFORD Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
Cocalico High School student-athlete Zach Rissler was recognized for his scholastic and athletic achievements by the Lancaster/Lebanon Basketball Officials at their annual banquet on April 15.
Rissler and three other Lancaster basketball players were presented with $1,000 checks using the funds raised by the Tim Bartholomew Memorial Basketball Tournament held each year in Ephrata.
"This is the fourth year and including tonight, it will be 14 award winners for $14,000," said Scholarship committeeman Gary Morinchin.
Morinchin explained the nominating process.
"The coaches are allowed to nominate one senior from their team and based on the coach’s nomination, we pick five boys and five girls finalists," he said. "From those finalists, we have them write an essay on how athletics has influenced them as a student and an athlete. Based on the essay, we pick two girls’ and two boys’ winners."
Coach Travis Wealand nominated Rissler based on the perseverance he displayed overcoming a back injury that kept him from competing his junior year and his willingness to help the team.
"Zach, when he was a junior, had an injury and had to sit out the whole season," recalled Wealand. "He came to practice to literally help us by doing whatever was needed."
"I had a herniated disc in my back in my lumbar," said Rissler. "I found out about two weeks before (football) two a days. It was something that was going on for a while because the pain would go down my left leg."
Rissler hoped that rest would allow him to return to sports but eventually needed surgery in December of 2011. The timing prevented him from being around the basketball team during the early season.
"Once I came back, I tried to help the manager as much as I could," Rissler said. "I’d work the clock, (shoot) some balls and (get) some rebounds if I could. It was probably about a month (before he could come back to practice)."
Overcoming the injury, Rissler returned to athletics.
"This year as a senior, he was healthy and had a great football season," continued Wealand. "When he came to us, he was our sixth man. Of course, as a senior, you want to start but he did a great job accepting that role and he had a great attitude, helping the younger kids. He does a good job in the classroom and is a leader there."
To demonstrate his classroom abilities, Rissler needed to submit the essay and enlisted the help of one of his former teachers.
"I wrote the essay and had a teacher (Nancy Lewis) help me with the essay," said Rissler. "She was my English teacher in my junior year."
John Weinhold, who introduced Rissler at the banquet, was impressed with the maturity and character his essay conveyed.
"I realized I was not going to get this year back," said Weinhold, quoting Rissler during the introductions. "I was not going to let it beat me down. I have taken this attitude in everything I’ve done since my injury."
Weinhold also quoted Rissler’s essay to show Rissler understands the responsibilities of being in the sporting spotlights.
"I always watch what I am doing on and off the field because I know my actions are closely watched by my teammates, teachers and especially the young students."
Rissler will attend Temple University to major in Sports Management and minor in Business.
"My dream is to work on a sports team out of Philly," said Rissler. "If it is out of Philly, I’d pick the Phillies but besides that, I love all the sports."
"It is a business management degree," he continued. "I take a bunch of business management courses so I only have to take three more classes to make it a minor. They get you ready to work (in) pro sports (or) college sports. You work for Citizens Bank Park instead of working for the Phillies. Like (Temple) said, you need to be more of a businessman than a sports fan. I would be more a behind the scenes man." More RISSLER, page B-3