Zach will be back!
That's what Todd Briggs, Zach Zawatski's former coach at Freehold Township said, and that's the mantra that will fuel Zawatski to return to running and racing as he begins his road to recovery from very serious injuries that he suffered in a single car accident.
Zawatski, who graduated from Freehold Township last June and is now a freshman on the cross country and track and field teams at Baylor University, was driving alone to the Manasquan Reservoir to go for a long run on Jan. 3 when his car skidded off the slick roadway on I-195 in Jackson and collided with a tree.
Zawatski's mother, Alison, said her son suffered a fractured right femur and had surgery to insert a permanent rod in his bone to reconnect the bone, and he's being treated for blood clots from deep vein thrombosis (dvt) that resulted from the accident. Zawatski came home from the hospital on Thursday and is on crutches now.
Anyone who knows Zawatski knows he has an iron will, a competitive fire that has a lot more left to burn, and is capable of putting together a great comeback story.
Briggs said Zawatski, an All-County and All Conference XC runner at Freehold Township as a senior, needs lots of support right now, and that he's as tough as they come and built to handle this situation.
"He needs all the support he can get in the world right now,'' said Briggs. "However, have no doubt. This young man will bounce back better than any athlete I've had the privilege to work with in the past. There is an old expression that goes something like, "God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers". Believe it or not, this young man is equipped to handle this unfortunate event. I say this because I have experienced it first hand. He gets his character from being the oldest of three children in a very loving home. His family is serious about many things I'm sure, but the family environment is fun loving to say the least. Zach inherited his sense of humor and ability to find the positive and light hearted nature of any situation from his parents. That ability they have nurtured in him will serve him well.
Briggs saw Zawatski on Sunday night.
"He is already cracking jokes and smiling just days after this incident, which could have been even more tragic,'' said Briggs. "He is built for this, to overcome this and he will. He has all the support one needs. A loving, resourceful family. A running community not just in Freehold, but in Manalapan that cares and looks out for one another. And an enduring will that saw him wake up every day before dawn to meet me for the first running session of the day when he was a high school senior. We have not heard the last of his tremendous accomplishments in athletics or anywhere else in his life. Could not be prouder of a young man for handling this in a way in which many others, including myself, would never be able to. My hats of to him and his family.''
Zawatski's mother said her son is driven to get back to the sport he loves.
"This sport is his entire life and his greatest passion,'' said Mrs. Zawatski. "He is starting on a long road to recovery, but is driven to get back to 100 percent.''
One thing that has already helped Zawatski is the outpouring of support he's received.
"I see improvement mentally and physically with every visitor, phone call, text, card etc. that he gets,'' said Mrs. Zawatski.
Right now, Zawatski needs as much support as possible from the NJ running community, which is as tight-knit and caring as any group I've ever been around.
Let's show Zach just how much we all care about him by sending him messages that will motivate, inspire, and encourage him. Your words matter. They will help him heal.
You can send your messages of support for Zach to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or reply to our social media post for the article.