A real goal-getter
Soccer talents land Keegan Zanda on path for college ball
When all is said and done as a senior at Hartselle High School, Keegan Zanda will look back with pride on what he has accomplished both in the classroom and on the soccer field.
Zanda’s stats speak for themselves: The Tiger is an honor graduate with a 3.9 grade point average as a junior; co-captain and four-year starter on the soccer team; first soccer player to earn an athletic scholarship; and first HHS player ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps. As team striker, he scored 44 goals in 17 games and had six assists and 11 hat tricks during first 17 games of the 2021 season.
When it came time to pursue taking his talents to the next level, “the recruiting process was difficult to say the least,” said mother Dawn Zanda. “COVID-19 had everything shut down. Colleges cancelled the soccer season; they were not allowed to recruit prospects in person, and prospects were not allowed to make on-campus visits.
“On top of that,” she added, “most of the colleges have soccer programs don’t have a lot of money for scholarships. Players are asked to walk on or accept a limited scholarship and make up the difference on their own or with the help of an academic scholarship.”
Luckily the Zandas already had an “in” at a university where soccer was alive and well – the University of Mobile. “My son, Addison, 21, who played soccer at Hartselle High, is a student there,” explained Zanda. “He was able to get Keegan’s soccer video in the hands of the coach, and that’s what got the ball moving.”
The Tiger star signed a grant-in-aid to play soccer at the University of Mobile. “I’m pretty happy about reaching a career goal,” Zanda said. “It’s going to be a new experience in a different atmosphere. I think I’ll be ready.” He said he plans to live with his older sibling, at least until he gets accustomed to campus life. Before that, however, he wants to end his high school career on winning note.
The Hartselle team was 16-3-1 on the season as of the beginning of April and had a 5-0 record in area play. Playoffs began April 22, with the state tournament set for Montgomery.
Zanda was introduced to the game of soccer as a 5-year-old, playing in Hartselle’s Parks & Recreation league. He also played football and basketball through the sixth grade. “I was about 10 when I began taking soccer seriously and decided that was the sport I wanted to focus my attention on,” said Zanda. “I gave up football and basketball when I was in the seventh grade.”
On the soccer field, Zanda said he has “played at about every position on the team since my freshman year.”
“I don’t have a favorite spot on the field, but it has been fun playing striker this year because it puts me in position to score goals,” he added. “My teammates are looking for ways to get the ball to me, and that helps a lot.”
In addition to his mother and siblings, Zanda credits his coaches with helping him improve his game: Mike Remus with River City United is a former travel team coach, a professional who played at Texas A&M; Regan Roan coached him through his freshman through junior years; and Dan Bennich is his head coach now, after serving as his seventh– and eighth–grade head coach.
Zanda played travel team soccer with Madison Blaze in 2020. Team coaches were Mike Hanline, Steve Vaughn and Jonathan Frazier.
“All four of my children were soccer players,” his mother noted, “but Keegan was the only one who saw the big picture and remained steadfast in his desire to play at the college level.”