Jeff Wasinger has been a coach for over 40 years, but he still remembers the first time he met Jackson Zinn at Ralston Valley High School.
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“The first time you meet him and years later you think about him, you think about the smile on his face. That smile he had that would never quit. That was my first impression of him—man, does that kid have a smile,” Wasinger said.
Zinn—who graduated from RVHS in 2018—was killed in a car crash March 15 when a truck driven by a 13-year-old boy collided with a 17-passenger van carrying University of the Southwest golfers returning from a tournament.
Zinn was one of nine people killed in the crash; six USW students, the golf team’s head coach and two people inside the truck. He was 22.
During his time at RVHS, Zinn established himself as a prolific golfer. The Mustangs won the JeffCo League championship his senior year while Zinn was named first-team all-conference. But Zinn’s impact was felt in the locker room as much as on the fairway, according to Wasinger.
“By the time Jackson was a senior, he was the leader of the team…he won the Bobby Jones Award—the award we chose relating to the quality of the player as they relate to the golfer Bobby Jones; respect for the game, respect for the history of the game, lessons in golf reflected in lessons people learn in life. All those things were exemplified by Jackson,” Wasinger said.
Wasinger also praised Zinn’s work ethic and demeanor.
“A large part of our successes was due to the fact that Jackson was a calming influence on the team. We had younger players and he mentored them. He had this experienced calmness as well as mentoring his experience with younger players on the team,” Wasinger said.
I was always able to rely on Jackson to come and work out," Wasinger continued. "He was always willing and anxious to meet those younger players. He never once felt like, ‘that’s beneath me.’ It’s very common for star players to the point where ‘I’m special and I deserve special privileges because of what I’ve accomplished.’ That attitude was never a part of Jackson’s makeup."
Zinn’s kindness endeared him to many. Hundreds of people attended his funeral service March 26 at Grace Church in Arvada. True to what Zinn would have wished for, attendees traded their black suits for their favorite jerseys at the memorial.
For his part, Wasinger remembers a teammate who never felt above helping a young player out and was always quick to learn from his mistakes.
“He was extremely humble with his success and very open when he wasn’t successful,” Wasinger said.
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