Where it all began

Seth Williams, Assistant Sports Editor

What makes a professional athlete different from any other person? Why can only some people turn a passion for a sport into a career? Zach Johnson (R94) was announced as the captain of the American Ryder Cup Team for 2023 on February 28 and was humbled to be given the opportunity to lead the team. For many at Xavier, it was a proud moment seeing a Catholic school alumni receiving such an impressive honor. This moment was especially impactful for Junior golfer Charlie Allen (X23). “In terms of Zach being Ryder Cup Captain I think it’s a huge accomplishment and [I] am extremely excited to see what team he puts together and to see how successful they are,” Allen said. “It means a lot [to me] because in a lot of ways I like to compare myself to him, for example we both went to Catholic schools and had a couple of the same teachers, and then just competing in some of the same tournaments that he competed in when he was in high school is really cool because you can see past winners and most of the time his name is on it.” While Johnson has accomplished a lot throughout his career, including a green jacket from the 2007 Masters, he has never forgotten the lessons he learned from Catholic schools as a kid. “I can definitely say that I am a product of my youth environment. From day one at St. Pius, I was given great opportunities (in and out of the classroom), great teaching, and I was surrounded by great people,” Johnson said. “These people helped mold me into the person I am today. I am grateful.” His classmate, Chad Charkowski (R94), still knows Johnson uses what he learned to help out catholic schools and his community. “Zach hasn’t changed a bit. Fame and fortune couldn’t have happened to a better person! Money hasn’t changed him as there’s no better person to represent Iowa, Cedar Rapids, the Hawks, and the Midwest than Z [Johnson],” Charkowski (R94) said. “He is a perfect example of tons and tons of hard work that has paid off. The quality of his character dictates the majority of everything coming his way, but clearly the hard work on top of that has led him to the Ryder Cup Captain.” Johnson understands that many kids in Catholic schools have dreams of turning their passions into careers. His experiences in Catholic schools and his faith have led him throughout his career and he wanted to give some advice to young kids on doing the same. “I would say a few things… One… surround yourself around like minded, goal-oriented, hard working people. Two… understand that each day is a gift and one that (you) should not take for granted. Seize it. All we can ask for is opportunities. Three… do NOT let what you do define you. It’s futile. Your true identity should be in Jesus Christ and what HE HAS DONE… again, not what you are doing. Success is honoring Him each and every day,” Johnson said. The Xavier Foundation office is working with Destinations Unlimited to take a group of Xavier supporters to Italy to watch Johnson lead the American team at the Ryder Cup. While no exact dates have been set, September 25 to October 3, 2023 is the expected timeline of the trip. The trip would include two days of Ryder Cup action and lots of sightseeing throughout Italy and the Vatican City. Contact the Xavier Foundation office for more information.