Feature: Catching up with Zach Aalderink

It’s a Friday evening in October at about 1:00pm. Zach Aalderink is busy cleaning tables at Culver’s in Holland where he works. He is focused on his job, but he knows that the Hawkeyes will be taking the field tonight, and he’ll be there.

Zach Aalderink, a 2004 Hamilton graduate, who works at Culver’s, and volunteers as the manager for the Hope women’s basketball team, has been involved in Hamilton football for 16 years. He was born with down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder, that has increased 30% in the number of the U.S. population that is born being diagnosed with it. He said that being apart of the team has really helped him with his skills.

He plays the role of team hype man on the sidelines for Hamilton. He has only missed 1 game since being part of the program, and he probably won’t miss another one. His favorite part about being apart of the team is getting to know the coaches and new players, and to bond with them.

Now that Hamilton is 0-8, hopefully he can try and bring the team closer. He also said it was his dream to be apart of Hamilton football forever. He is definitely living his dream, as 16 years feels like forever to some people.

When asked, Zach said he described Hamilton football as ¨loyal¨ Hamilton football has been through some ups and downs throughout the years. But his loyalty has kept him here. No matter if Hamilton is 1-8 or 9-0, he will stick with it.

He was asked if a player, or coach were to describe him and his loyalty towards Hamilton, he said it would be support. Just like his loyalty, his support also shows. Running out with the team before the game, and staying on the sidelines with the team. For 16 years, no matter the weather, no matter the score. He is basically part of the team.

Hamilton assistant coach Mark Behnke was asked what he thought of Zachs loyalty and support to Hamilton football. ¨In the last 15 years, a lot has changed around Hamilton, and in some respects Hamilton football,  but one of the constants for those 15 years has been Zach… and his enthusiasm on a game night… and to be honest with you, you look at Zach who’s now a grown man and his enthusiasm for the sport is what we should have, or try to have with all of our students here, in all sports.¨

Zach is a great example of what an enthusiastic Hamilton athlete should like. At sometimes when the Hawkeyes run out onto the field, he is one of the most hyped. You could even say he’s a great leader by example.

Zach Aalderink has been involved with Hamilton football for 16 years, knowing his loyalty and support he will most likely be apart of it forever.