By Ben Ferree/NPSL.com
Zachary Zemmels has been a part of the New Orleans Jesters since he was 10 years old. The
cerebral center back is one of just four players on the current U-19 team that has been with the
club that have progressed through the entire system. Along the way, he’s impressed the
coaching staff at every stop.
Playing a position most known for strength, it’s the way Zemmels sees the game and his
commitment that stands out.
“He’s just brilliant,” said New Orleans Jesters U-19 head coach Igor Siskov. “He is one of my
favorite players. He is a very dedicated, hardworking player. His dedication is just phenomenal.
I can rely on him no matter what. It makes me as a coach very comfortable before the game. If
I’m short on time at practice, he always leads by example.”
Zemmels recalls very early in his playing career when a coach was describing the different grids
on a soccer field and the responsibilities a player has in each grid. He instantly made the
connection to one of his other favorite pastimes – chess.
“I remember I turned to my coach and said ‘oh, it’s like chess! All of the pieces have to stay in
their positions and do their part,’” Zemmels said. “We lost a game shortly after that on a goal
that was partially my fault, and I told my coach ‘sorry I was out of my grid.’ It’s definitely
helped in the way I go about the positioning on the field.”
Zemmels is thankful for the Jesters and the new NPSL U-19 pilot for being able to help develop
and advance his skills and the sport of soccer in New Orleans.
“We’ve always maintained that we learn a much more European passing style with the Jesters
than other clubs in the area, who learn more of the American longball style,” Zemmels said. “We
learn the game a little bit better because of the opportunities we have and the coaches we have.
Being able to play with the overage players [on the U-19 team] has been great as well.”
In addition to playing for the Jesters, Zemmels is the captain of the Benjamin Franklin High
School varsity soccer team. Last year they made it to the state semifinals before falling in
overtime to eventual champions Holy Cross. Zemmels hopes to continue his playing career at
the collegiate level and has received some interest from division three schools. But even if his
playing career isn’t over anytime soon, Zemmels has his eye on the future.
“I’m looking to get my UEFA coaching license and continue coaching at the next level,”
To get some early coaching experience, Zemmels has already begun helping coach other youth
teams for the Jesters. It’s a path that Siskov thinks can take him far.
“With his leadership and his commitment, I can see him being a coach,” Siskov said. “He could
definitely be successful. When you watch those former players with great leadership, they make
great coaches. He will fight for the club, for the coaches, he plays his heart in all the games. He
never ever gives up. That’s something that impresses me. I’ve never seen him give up any ball
in any game. He is truly dedicated and that’s what amazes me.”
Photo Credit: Ivar Zemmels and Rob Folse