ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Happy Valley senior Zach Stansell is a Warrior through and through. In fact, he’s just following in his family’s footsteps.
“Sports have been a family tradition ever since I was born,” he said.
His mom and aunt played basketball on Lady Warrior teams that went deep into the postseason.
“She was on the All-State tournament team,” he said of his aunt.
His dad spent his fair share of time on the gridiron, as well.
“That’s how I fell in love with the sport,” he smiled.
It’s no wonder Stansell ended up in a letterman jacket. His own sports journey began on the basketball court at the age of nine.
“Having the ball in my hands – dribbling, shooting, rebounding … nothing like it,” he said.
He took a year off from the hardwood when his family moved to the area in seventh grade. But, he couldn’t stay away for too long – the court kept calling to him.
“Came back in eighth grade – best decision of my life,” he said.
His return to football followed soon after, and while joining a new squad was nerve-wracking at first, he soon found a second family.
“Coaches helped me a lot, my teammates were welcoming,” he said, “and it was just one the best decisions.”
Stansell credits his coaches and teammates with being instrumental in helping him figure out who he is as a young man. They’ve also taught him some valuable lessons along the way.
“It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish,” he said.
He knows the last few Happy Valley football seasons haven’t quite been what the team has hoped for. The Warriors are off to a 0-2 start in 2023.
But, Stansell says this group might just have something that will lead to wins in the near future.
“Most importantly it’s just going out there, giving it all we got,” he said. “Win, lose or draw.”
When he isn’t playing sports, Stansell is working on telling everyone else about Happy Valley athletics as a member of the Yearbook Club.
“Not every sport,” he explained. “It’s just my two main sports.”
He’s meeting new people and gaining experience in his desired major – photography and podcasting. But, graduation is still a whole football and basketball season away.
And he’s not wishing his Happy Valley family away anytime soon.
“It’s something you’re not going to get at other schools.”