Born into a family of race car drivers, Zach Jarrett is using another sports pedigree to try to drive his own destiny.
The 6-foot-5 third baseman for Hickory High School is focused on finishing his senior season and gearing up for college.
Jarrett’s infatuation with the game of baseball started at an early age with his grandfather Jack Spears, who played 11 seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“I'd always go over to his house and watch baseball,” Zach said of Spears. “He just got me into it. Once I got into it, I just hung on to it and loved it.”
Zach’s father Dale, who won three Daytona 500s and a Winston Cup title in 1999, said his son never really became interested in the world of auto racing.
“I bought the kids some go-karts just to have at the house,” Dale said. “Zach rode them some, but he has never shown any interest. That is probably because Kelly, his mom, would take him anywhere to a baseball or basketball practice or game. Not that she didn’t appreciate what the sport of racing has done for our family, but this is her son. She was hoping that he might not want to follow in those same footsteps. I think this is his way of having his own identity, too.”
Part of Zach creating his own path has been the ability to brush off the harshest of criticisms.
During both his prep baseball and basketball career with the Red Tornadoes, Zach has heard a number of negative chants directed at his famous family.
Among these cheers including “Daddy’s boy” and “Karsyn’s better,” relating to his sister — a former standout athlete at Hickory High.
Zach takes all these jeers in stride and just focuses on the task at hand.
“Sometimes it is fun,” he said. “You never take it too personal when you are out there. You take it as fuel to the fire to go out there and play your best. It doesn’t really affect you when you get older and you understand what they are trying to do to you mentally. As long as you try to stay mentally strong through all of that, it just becomes fun.”
Dale is proud of his son for how he has handled the negativity.
“He smiles and goes on about his business,” Dale said. “I really appreciate the way he handles things because everybody doesn’t handle that the best. He has taken it kind of light-hearted and not handled it as pressure to perform, but as a motivation and not in a negative way.”
Zach is 18-for-45 (.400) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 16 RBIs this prep baseball season.
Statistics aside, Zach is proud to take a role as one of eight senior leaders on the Hickory baseball squad.
“Being a senior is important to any team,” he said. “They are always looked up to as leaders. Coaches also look up to them to help them with coaching throughout the year and do anything they can to help. I just try to help the younger kids understand what Hickory baseball is all about and to help them push through everything.”
Hickory baseball coach David Craft has been pleased to have Zach as a member on his team.
“Zach is an extremely hard worker who excels on and off the field,” Craft said. “He is a leader and makes everyone around him better. He is just a pleasure to coach.”
After his senior season, Zach is heading to UNC-Charlotte to play baseball — an opportunity he is looking forward to.
“I’m really excited to get down to UNC-Charlotte,” he said. “That’s going to be lots of fun. Right now, I’m just trying to relax and know I have to go out there and play every single day like it is my last. You are not guaranteed anything.”