Sierra Sun’s male Athlete of the Year from North Tahoe High School: Zach Rickenbach
Zach Rickenbach was only a freshman when he first caught the eye of longtime North Tahoe boys’ soccer coach Beto Alcaraz.And the coach has been a fan of his game ever since. andamp;#8220;Zach wasn’t considered to be on the varsity team as a freshman, but when I first saw him play andamp;#8212; it was in a scrimmage against Wooster andamp;#8212; I said, andamp;#8216;wait a minute andamp;#8230;’andamp;#8221;Alcaraz was impressed. After one look at Rickenbach in action, it was clear the freshman did not belong at the junior varsity level. andamp;#8220;He was just such a tenacious player. Relentless. One of the best kids I ever coached,andamp;#8221; said Alcaraz, who promptly bumped Rickenbach up to the varsity squad. andamp;#8220;Zach has been a very valuable asset to the soccer team ever since he was a freshman. He worked hard and led by example, and he would never give up. I was very fortunate to coach him.andamp;#8221;Soccer wasn’t even his most polished sport, either, as the recently graduated senior andamp;#8212; and Sierra Sun’s male Athlete of the Year from North Tahoe High School andamp;#8212; made an even bigger impact on the Lakers’ alpine ski team this past winter.andamp;#8220;We finally got Zach to come out as a senior, and he just skis at such a high level that he made all the difference for the boys to have him out there,andamp;#8221; said Scott Everist, head coach of the Lakers’ alpine ski team.A difference-maker he was, as Rickenbach, who grew up racing with the Far West Skiing program, captured both the slalom and giant slalom individual titles to help lead the Lakers to a Tahoe Basin League state championship.andamp;#8220;He’s just been at it for so long, from such a young age. He’s an accomplished skier,andamp;#8221; Everist said. andamp;#8220;He’s always focused on it, and with all the other coaches bringing him up through Far West, we were just lucky to have him for his senior year. He made a big difference.andamp;#8221;Combined with the Monforte brothers, Sal and Nico, and Garrett Driller andamp;#8212; all Far West racers themselves andamp;#8212; the North Tahoe ski team was untouchable this past season. And they had a fun time doing it, even showing up to one race in jeans. andamp;#8220;He was a great teammate,andamp;#8221; Everist said of Rickenbach. andamp;#8220;When he came out for the high school team he was able to loosen up and have a lot of fun. I think it made a difference not having the pressure on him. He could just kind of hang out and ski with his friends and help his team.andamp;#8221;But while Rickenbach displayed a deft touch on the snow, he stood out on the soccer field with his all-out effort and hustle. The defensive stopper with a powerful right leg never relented, no matter what the score. He was a vocal team captain who also led by example, displaying sportsmanship while never stooping to an opponent’s level when things got heated.andamp;#8220;He’s very tenacious and never gives up,andamp;#8221; Alcaraz said. andamp;#8220;He always gives you 110 percent on the field. He wasn’t the most technical player, but his tenacity and his speed and his willingness to do well is what made him so good. He was always striving to get better. Every time I would give him advice about something, he would work on it, and he would excel.andamp;#8221;Rickenbach wasn’t only valuable on defense, as Alcaraz would pull him forward for corner kicks or if the Lakers were desperate for a goal late in a game. He scored seven goals his senior year and 12 as a junior. andamp;#8220;For being a defender, that’s a lot of goals,andamp;#8221; Alcaraz said.He received All-League honorable mention recognition as a defender. andamp;#8220;He’s just a great kid to coach. He has a great attitude and was always there for me and the team. He’s just an awesome kid. I’m very proud to have been able to coach him the last four years. Everyone is going to miss him on the team, especially me,andamp;#8221; said Alcaraz.