BILLING — It’s not often that an athlete has a feature article written about them during their senior year of high school in their hometown newspaper, and nearly nine years later another feature article on the same athlete as a senior playing sports in college appears in their hometown newspaper.
But, it’s not often you come across an athlete like Zach Wall, a senior men’s soccer player from Rocky Mountain College.
Wall is a 2014 Billings Central graduate who played for the Rams as a wrestler and football player while earning a varsity letter in tennis. In early December 2013, Wall was just beginning his final year of struggle for the Rams when The Gazette published a feature article highlighting a two-week mission trip he took to the Philippines to help the country rebuild after a earthquake of magnitude 7.2. the nation.
Now – a freshman mission trip to Rocky in Guatemala, and two years at Rocky to study and play football, followed by four years in the United States Marine Corps, and a return to Rocky for the spring 2021 semester to further his education and play soccer — Wall is 27 years old and a senior at RMC.
He married Kaile Shea Wall last December and bought a house in July. Wall will graduate at the end of the fall semester with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. Wall said that with his degree, he will be able to pursue work in law enforcement.
And when he finally leaves the football pitch, Wall will have played five years for the Battlin’ Bears – including the contested spring campaign in 2021 because the season was pushed back by the COVID-19 outbreak. Wall will have been a member of three RMC National Tournament squads (2014, 2015, Spring 2021) “with hopes for a fourth” by the end of his Rocky career.
Wall and the Battlin’ Bears (2-1-1 overall, 0-0-0 Cascade Collegiate Conference) will play their opener Saturday against Providence (0-1-0, 0-0-0) at 3:30 p.m. at Wendy’s Field on Rocky’s campus. The women’s RMC will host the Argos before the men’s game at 1 p.m.
“Who can’t look forward to having fun on the court,” said the official Wall of the Bears home opener. “I’m here to have fun and football is something I’ve loved since I was little.”
Rocky’s longtime coach Richard Duffy first recruited Wall for the Battlin’ Bears out of high school. Duffy explained that Wall was passionate about football.
“He brings endless energy on and off the court and a desire to win and compete,” Duffy said. “He is an extremely important member of our team.”
After high school and playing two seasons of football at Rocky, Wall explained that he was looking for a change. It was then that he turned to the Marines.
“So I think my headspace wasn’t in the right place to go to college at the time. I was never a big fan of school,” Wall said. always wanted to do some sort of military service. After the 2015 season, I felt it was time for me to move on. I wanted to do something new.
Wall said he was in California for boot camp and combat training and after being stationed in Okinawa, Japan for about 3.5 years. Wall said he was a paralegal and court reporter, as well as a martial arts instructor, with the Marines.
After serving in the Marines, Wall returned to Billings and started doing concrete. He also started getting involved again with Faith Chapel.
When Wall was on a mission in the Philippines in high school, he went with a group of six others from Faith Chapel to Billings. Wall said he was still a member of Faith Chapel and helped as a counselor at a youth group every Wednesday when he first returned to Billings after leaving the Marines. Wall said his older brother, Mikey — who was also on Rocky’s football team when Zach was a freshman — is a middle school pastor at Faith Chapel and asked him to be a counselor at the church’s camp. .
It was there that Wall reconnected with Duffy while Duffy’s son was attending camp, Wall said.
“I asked him what he was looking to do and if he was interested in being part of our program,” Duffy said. “He’s a different level athlete and person than last time.”
Duffy said Wall’s time in the Marines helped him become a leader of the Battlin’ Bears.
“With the level of maturity he got in the military and the work ethic,” Duffy explained, “he came in and helped the young players through what he did his first two years. “
Wall is known for his “flip throw,” Duffy said when he runs, flips and touches the ball. Duffy noted that the move is a “crowd pleaser.”
“I haven’t had anyone else who can do it effectively,” Duffy said. “Whenever the ball goes out of bounds of the other team’s half, we have the opportunity to kick it into the opposing team’s goal area. It’s like a corner kick when the ball goes out of bounds.
Wall admits that if not for football, he might not have chosen to go back to school. Now that he’s back on the court, he wants him and his Battlin’ Bears teammates to enjoy the good game.
To that end, Wall said he tries to help his teammates stay focused and keep their eyes on the prize.
“Keeping the game fun is a big thing to keep the team together,” Wall said. “Everyone cares about winning and you can’t win if your mind isn’t good.”
Duffy said Wall was able to play in multiple positions on the court. This year, Duffy said Wall had more of a “defensive role.”
According to Duffy, Wall can run “all day.” Looking at Wall’s progression from high school to college, the Marines, and back to college, Duffy isn’t surprised the senior is still in the news.
“I’m just proud of the growth I’ve seen from Zach from a football perspective and off the pitch,” Duffy said. “I am extremely happy that he has returned to our program and he has been a great leader since his arrival.”