All Shane Zimmerman ever wanted to do as a South Webster Jeep — besides winning games and titles, of course — was to carry on the legacy that his grandfather and mother set behind.
It’s safe to say that Zimmerman’s done that — while continuing to blaze his own trail as a three-sport athlete.
The 6-2 senior continued South Webster’s historic run of sending student-athletes to college programs in 2017 by signing a letter of intent to play college basketball at NCAA Division III Heidelberg University for the 2017-18 season on forward in a signing ceremony held at South Webster High School on Thursday afternoon.
For Zimmerman, it’s an exciting time for the Jeep, who became the second South Webster student-athlete to sign a national letter of intent with Heidelberg. Sydney McCoy, a cross country and track and field athlete at the school, signed with the school on March 31.
“It’s a blessing,” Zimmerman said. “My goal in elementary school was to be just like my grandpa because everyone around South Webster talks about how good (Mike Rose) was. I always told my grandpa that I want people to talk like that about me. Now, I’m going to go to Heidelberg and pursue my dreams of playing college basketball. It’s a great feeling.”
However, in Ryan Fenton’s eyes, it is an opportunity that has been well-earned.
“I’m very excited for Shane,” Fenton said. “He had talked to (our coaching staff), years ago, about wanting to play at the next level. We told him things that he would need to do and get better at to get to that level, and I’m just glad to see him finally reach that. I know that it’s been a goal of his, and I know that he’s definitely looking forward to the outcome.”
The signing is the major capper to a brilliant individual career that has included at least seven All-Southeast District honors as a player combined in both soccer and basketball.
As far as the roundball, Zimmerman had plenty of expectations on him, as Rose, along with his mother, Brandi Rose-Zimmerman, each accumulated over 1,000 points during their careers at South Webster.
Zimmerman, however, blew the doors off of those expectations by scoring over 1,500 points during his career at South Webster while not only earning All-SOC honors in every season of his career, but accumulating All-Southeast District honors in each of his four seasons as a Jeep. The 6-2 guard was a Special Mention All-District honoree as a freshman and a First-Team All-District member as a sophomore and a junior while averaging 17 and 23 points per game, respectively, in both of those seasons.
However, the senior and his cohorts really ramped up the intensity in 2017. Behind a Second-Team All-Southeast District campaign from Zimmerman, who averaged a team-high 14.3 points per game in his swan-song campaign, South Webster proceeded to advance all the way from the sectional semifinal round — after only obtaining a No. 6 seed in the Division IV, Athens I District Tournament — to the district finals, where the Jeeps fell to Clay, 54-48, in a thrilling back-and-forth affair where Zimmerman actually put the Jeeps ahead with less than five minutes to play in the game.
“I’m very appreciative of Shane and the entire senior class for setting that precedent,” Fenton said. “It hasn’t been easy. There’s been a lot of bumps in the road for these kids, with friends that stopped playing. But Shane, Alek (Blevins), and Matthew (Shonkwiler) really stuck with it, and I think they really showed the young kids what it takes, which is to work hard, stick together, be close, and be friends on and off of the court. I’m thankful for that. I believe that the young kids are hungry to try to reach that bar.”
But while basketball is arguably Zimmerman’s first love as far as sports are concerned, it’s far from the only sport that he can play.
Take soccer, for example. The three-time All-Southeast District selection excelled in the midfield for the Jeeps throughout his career, which was evident during a banner year for the South Webster soccer program in 2016. His 17 assists, which paced the team, and 22 goals, which were second on the squad, were vital as South Webster went 18-0-1 en route to a Division IV, Athens I District Championship and a berth in the Division IV, Region 11 Semifinals.
Last, but not least, there’s baseball.
On the diamond, Zimmerman’s proven to be a consistent .300 hitter for the unit who can also start or pitch in relief for the Jeeps. The senior — who primarily plays shortstop when he isn’t pitching — drove in four RBI in the Division IV, Southeast II District Championship against Notre Dame and threw two scoreless innings behind fellow senior teammate Trevor Coriell to allow South Webster to obtain its first district title ever in the sport with a 7-2 victory over the Titans.
“Shane’s been a very special athlete all-around,” Fenton said. “It’s been great for me. His freshman year was my first year as the head coach (for South Webster in basketball), and just watching him develop over the past four years, not just as a player, but as a person, has been special to watch and see. I’m very happy for him to have this opportunity, and I’m more proud of the young man that he’s become. He’s really become very respectful, polite, and a good kid all around. He’s just doing really well. I’m happy for him.”
But make no mistake about it, Zimmerman is a fierce competitor — especially when he’s donned the South Webster colors.
“Putting on that South Webster jersey, regardless of what sport it is, and representing the school, it’s truly an honor,” Zimmerman said. “It’s the best school in Scioto County, so to represent it in an athletic light means a great deal to me.”
Without question, it’s certainly easy to see why Fenton, and others, will miss the three-sport standout, especially with how competitive and driven Zimmerman is.
“We’re going to miss him,” Fenton said. “He’s a four-year starter who’s scored over 1,500 points. He’s going to be tough to replace, no doubt about that. We’re definitely very happy about his opportunity at Heidelberg.”
However, Zimmerman’s latest opportunity is one that he says couldn’t be possible without his friends, family, and all of the individuals at South Webster who have pushed him to be the best individual that he can be.
“There’s a lot of things that I’m passionate about,” Zimmerman said. “However, there’s nothing that I am more passionate about than my family and friends. They have been there from Day One and have helped mold me into the person that I am today. I don’t have all the memories that I have formulated at South Webster without them.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7