Just twelve months ago Zach Vallafskey was suited up and playing on Saturdays for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
He is now on the other side of the lines helping out football head coach Tom Journell as the defensive backs coach this season.
Vallafskey was asked to join the staff in week two of the season while he has been finishing out his final semester here at UWSP. He returned to UWSP this fall after going through rookie mini camp with the Minnesota Vikings over the summer. He took some of what he had learned from the Vikings and carried it over to Pointers this year.
“Getting coached at the highest level opened my eyes to specific technique stuff that I not only passed on to the players here but the coaches as well to just, you know, see their thoughts on it,” Vallafskey said.
Vallafskey was a three year starter for UWSP in the secondary, so he said he relates to the position very well. His connection with some of the players in the program right now has been beneficial to his adjustment into the coaching ranks.
“The guys are comfortable coming to me and asking me questions about what they are seeing on the field, and it keeps me around the game and keeps me around them. It is definitely fun for not only me but them as well ,” Vallafskey said.
The adjustment from being a guy who has played football since he was in Pop Warner to not being able to immediately help on the field has been an adjustment that has gone a little bit harder than expected, he said.
“It is tough. I don’t even know how to put it into words to be honest. It is cool to be on the other side, but it definitely sucks not being able to go out there myself and make an impact,” Vallafskey said.
Vallafskey said he was somewhat caught off guard when he was contacted by coach Journell, but he is taking notes on how his former coach used to get him going and carry it over to his own philosophy.
“He really is a great coach. You know he doesn’t just make us better players, but he emphasizes being better men. We learn a lot of life lessons from him that I can learn from and use,” Vallafskey said.
Although Vallafskey did not make the Vikings squad, he used the opportunity to get better individually and has not given up the dream of playing at some of the highest levels.
“I am still trying to play football, I have try outs for some teams coming up here so I am just taking it day by day and soaking up anything about the game that I can from all angles,” Vallafskey said.
If that does not work out, Vallafskey has coaching in mind. He is a guy who just loves to be around football and isn’t ready to give up the joy of the game just yet.
“With coaching it is obviously different than playing, but just being a part of a team on game day is special, along with the all week preparation, and you know you can only play for so long so coaching allows you to stay around the game,” Vallafskey said.