by Tom Pedulla –
When Dobbs Ferry High School boys’ basketball coach Scott Patrillo approached Zachary Holzman about becoming a team captain last year as a junior, it was the start of something big.
Patrillo recognized in Holzman leadership abilities that would spur others to greater heights and dramatically impact the school’s basketball and baseball teams.
Holzman’s dynamic leadership in his second year as basketball captain played a huge role as the Eagles soared to their first Section 1 Class B boys basketball title in 52 years and finished with a 21-5 record. He served as a captain on the baseball team this spring with Nate Bloom, Andrew Schwabe, and Tyler Sepinski, backing up Patrillo’s encouraging words as an ace left-hander and offensive catalyst.
Baseball coach Frank Adamo could easily have spoken for Patrillo when he said, “Everything he does is exactly the way you want your players to act, on the field, in the classroom. He’s an absolute role model for every player I have on my team, all our junior varsity players. He’s the guy you want kids looking up to.”
Holzman said he learned from other captains he served that there is not one way to show the way. He and Nucyo Sheriff captained last year’s basketball team. He was a tri-captain with Dimaunie Meredith and Damani Fraser when everything came together so wonderfully this past winter.
Holzman’s responsibilities went far beyond his role as starting small forward. “It was kind of my job to make sure everyone was in place and doing the right thing. I was loud and emotional,” he said. “I wasn’t the best player, but I would try to lead in as many ways as I can and hope my teammates would follow.”
A team that had shown promise for several years became nearly unstoppable. “It was really special,” Holzman said of a season he and his teammates will forever treasure. “It was a goal we all had as a team since middle-school age, very young. So, to finally get it done when it was our last chance was really special for us.”
Although the baseball team had its share of struggles, he did everything possible to embrace his final season and lay a foundation for future success. “He’ll point out little details. You always see him in practice doing drills, doing little things right,” said Bloom, a junior. “We’ll miss him.”
On the mound, Holzman produced a team-leading 47 strikeouts through his first 37-2/3 innings while registering three victories. He also paced the Eagles with a .325 batting average and recorded a robust .436 on-base percentage as he hit behind skillful leadoff man, Tommy Ritch.
“The greatest thing I can say about him is he’s a natural competitor,” Coach Adamo said. “Any time you give him the ball on the mound, he’s going to find a way to get something done. He finds a way even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. He’s still tough enough and smart enough to find a way to still keep you in the game.”
Holzman excelled academically with a grade point average of approximately 4.2 and was a member of the National Honor Society. He is set to enroll at New York University’s School of Professional Studies and looks forward to gaining a better understanding of the business world there. He will likely attempt to make the baseball team as a walk-on candidate.