Zach Cottrell, 4-time player of the year
When asked about his experience playing varsity basketball for Hayesville High school, Zach Cottrell remarked, “I’m humbled and blessed to have been able to play with such a great team for four years. In order to be player of the year, we have to win championships. I thank my team for the opportunity to meet my goal of 4-time player of the year. It really wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Zach is coached by his father Mike Cottrell who won coach of the year this season and shares the court with his younger brother, Josh Cottrell, a sophomore who made the All-Conference team this year. The legacy doesn’t stop with Hayesville, although that’s where Steve Cottrell, Mike Cottrell’s father ended his extensive basketball coaching career. Zach’s aunt Laura Cottrell coaches in Chattanooga and holds the all-time scoring record for Hayesville Lady Jackets at 2088 points. Of his family members, Zach plays the most similarly too his aunt with his versatility on the court and ability to see the game. Now Zach also shares the title of Hayesville all-time leading scorer with 1938 career points with over 900 rebounds. The previous record was held by Sean Rumfelt who was a really great player that racked up 1651 points for Hayesville in his high school career as a Yellow Jacket.
Zach said, “It has always been a dream of mine to play on a team with my brother and be coached by our father. I hope he [Josh] can surpass my record. He’s my brother and I want him to see success. I believe he will.” According to Zach, “Basketball isn’t something there is pressure to compete in or excel at for our family. “It’s just something we love to do.” He also added with a smile, “My dad can still beat my brother and I in horse. I was pretty far from his scoring record as a high-schooler and he didn’t even have a three-point line.” Coach Mike Cottrell said that senior captain Zach is “A great example of what leadership looks like and what it entails. Because of his team-first mentality, we saw success.” Zach averaged 20.1 points, 13 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game this season.
Zach is by no means finished with the sport he loves. At 8:30 p.m. on March 19 he will compete in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the annual North Carolina vs. South Carolina game. There he will compete in a 3-point contest and play with a very talented group of basketball players from both states. He will have four practices with his team before the game and has already played with a few of his teammates in travel ball and against some of the South Carolina team members.
Following the All-Star Game, Zach will set his sights on Appalachian State where he has a full ride scholarship to play division 1 basketball. Conditioning and strength-training will be his focus until August, where he travels with the team for their trip to Italy which they take every four years. Zach will travel around the country playing different teams and gaining experience at the next level along with valuable play-time prior to the college season beginning.
The interview with Zach ended with a promise not to forget his roots in the great life ahead of him. “I’m proud to represent my school, area and state doing what I love. Playing basketball.”