Gustin, a Holt graduate, is counted on by coaches and athletes as a reliable source of support as a manager and program assistant.
HOLT, Mich. - In sports, there is usually a team behind the team. People such as athletic directors, trainers, coaches, fans, and team managers play important roles to keep a team playing.
Typically, managers keep stats, get water and may even run social media accounts for the team.
Zach Gustin, a 2015 Holt High School graduate, has been successfully serving Rams athletic department as the manager. He’s been so good at his job that he was promoted to program assistant.
Gustin works with the boys’ soccer team in the fall, both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in the winter, and the girls’ soccer team in the spring.
He started working with the boys’ basketball team his senior year, not knowing it would be an important move that would impact his future.
“The assistant coaches kind of talked me into it, and I was like, ‘Sure why not?’ It was more simple that year and my role got bigger over the years,” said Gustin.
When he first started as the manager, Gustin did the stereotypical jobs: getting water and towels and keeping stats. But Gustin added another thing to his list of duties during the 2017-18 boys’ basketball season - announcing during the freshman and JV games.
“I didn’t think I’d do it, but I always kind of wanted to do it. We already had an announcer, but he couldn’t keep doing it,” said Gustin. “Renee [Sadler, the athletic director] asked if I would step in and do it, and I did.”
Gustin’s new gig did not go unnoticed, especially by those involved with the athletics program.
“He was announcing this last year, and it blew me away,” said Nick Brown, the freshman baseball coach and close friend of Gustin’s. “He’s mild-mannered, and he gets on the microphone, and he gets so into it. Like, ‘Oh my God, where did it come from?’”
While Gustin enjoys announcing, it’s Holt’s special atmosphere that keeps him around.
“It’s that family aspect, I have a lot of connections,” said Gustin. “Especially with soccer, I know some of the players had siblings that played my senior year.”
Gustin is grateful to the parents of Holt, as they have expressed how much his work means to them. He said parents come up and thank him for helping out after games.
Gustin’s role as program manager helps alleviate some of the worries for Sadler, because she manages multiple sports in a season. Gustin works about 15-30 hours per week, depending on the season.
“Sadler’s done a great job having confidence in me. She loves that I do soccer because I got everything figured out,” said Gustin.
Gustin did not play sports at Holt, due to family issues, but bring a manager allowed him to stay involved with the athletic program.
“It’s just fun. There were situations where he couldn’t play. But playing and seeing how excited he gets on the bench, its honestly, just really inspiring,” said Brown. “To this day, you know you look over and he’s going crazy. It’s just so much fun, because that’s a kid who would die to be on the floor playing and we get that opportunity - so it’s like playing through him or for him.”
Brown and Gustin became friends early in high school. They bonded over sports - talking about games, stats and rival teams. They’ve stayed friends throughout high school and have continued to stay involved with Holt athletics. They both tried out for the basketball team their senior year, leading to one of Brown’s favorite moments with Gustin.
“We were scrimmaging, I don’t know the ball kind of got batted around and landed in his hands,” said Brown. “And he shoots it, and he was on the baseline, in the corner. It hits the top of the backboard and it drops straight through. We stopped practice, came over to him and hounded him. We still talk about it all the time.”
It’s moments like those shots that keep Gustin around, to enjoy sports and being able to help out teams during their seasons. And doing it for Holt, that makes it the most special.