Temple defensive end aspires to support former school

Zack Mesday, a higher education graduate student, wants to teach elementary school students.

Graduate defensive end Zack Mesday runs onto the field before the start of the Owls’ game against Memphis at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 12. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Defensive end Zack Mesday was always the troublemaker in school.

To help guide kids like himself, the graduate student decided to pursue a career in teaching.

“Growing up, I knew I wanted to work with students,” said Mesday, a higher education graudate student. “I was always the kid who got in trouble in school, so I wanted to be a teacher and help the kids out who were like me growing up. It’s really just having someone that can look up to me as a role model.”

He is certified to teach kindergarten through fourth grade and wants to teach social studies or history.

Mesday wants to teach elementary school students because it allows him to influence them as they are aging, he said.

“I feel like getting ahead of the game and working with the future generations as they’re young and really help develop them, that’s gonna make more of an impact than when they’re in high school already,” Mesday said.

Mesday graduated in May 2018 with an early childhood education degree. Prior to graduating, Mesday taught literacy, math and social studies to third-graders at Julia de Burgos Elementary School in Kensington.

“It makes me incredibly proud when students say ‘I hope to do some of the things you do,’ or ‘I hope to be in K-12,’” said Jodi Laufgraben, one of Mesday’s education professors. “Whether [Mesday]’s working with students in K-12 or he chooses to work with college students, he will have a tremendous impact on young people’s lives.”

Mesday also wants to coach high school football, preferably at his former high school, Nottingham High School in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. 

Mesday and his former high school teammate, Saquan Hampton, want to go back to Nottingham to coach when their playing careers are over, Mesday said. 

Hampton, who is a safety, was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round of 2019 NFL Draft after playing for Rutgers University football.

By coaching, Mesday wants Nottingham to receive more support from the community and to help the program be successful, he said.

“There really isn’t any support coming back from the community,” Mesday said. “When I was there, we won our first state championship in school history. We have the talent to do so, but in recent years we’ve fallen off.”

During his freshman year at Temple in 2014, Mesday redshirted and then tore his ACL. He sustained the same injury the next year. From 2016-17, he only played in six games. 

Mesday finally saw significant playing time last season, when he played in all 13 of Temple’s games and recorded 33 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.

Mesday has played in all seven of Temple’s games this season and has recorded 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks. One of his sacks came in Temple’s 30-28 win over then nationally ranked Memphis on Oct. 12.

“[Mesday] has a consistent effort and a motor that just doesn’t stop,” coach Rod Carey said. “[He’s] a smart football player too. That usually results in good things. It certainly did in that case for him.”

Mesday hopes to play football professionally when his eligibility at Temple is over after this season and plans to start his career in education after his football career ends.

“I know it’s a long shot,” Mesday said. “I know there’s an opportunity. I’m not putting my marbles in a basket for that. It’s definitely something I look forward to and I hope it happens.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled “graduate” in the article excerpt.

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