The team manager that brought the term “Zaching” into the American vernacular has died. Zach Lederer, the Maryland team manager whose battle against brain cancer started an entire social media movement, has finally succumbed to the disease. He was 20 years old. Lederer gained worldwide fame when his strongman pose, labeled “Zaching” went viral as a symbol of strength and courage. With heavy hearts, the Maryland Terps fell to Florida State 67-65 just two days after the inspirational manager died.
John Auslander, the Terps senior forward, told reporters how hard it was to go out and prepare after just hearing about Lederer’s death. He said that the team had been thinking of Lederer since this whole process started for him, but he knew that the former team manager would want them to play and give their all.
The big stage and perhaps a wide range of emotion proved to much for the young Terps to handle. With less than two minutes to go, the inspired Terps battled back from 11 down, and even tied the Seminoles twice, but Boris Bojanovsky threw down a dunk for Florida State with 0.4 seconds left that sealed the win. The loss erased any hopes that Maryland had of making the NCAA tournament after the Terps closed the regular season on Sunday with a win over conference leader Virginia. The games conclusion also brought with it the ending of Maryland’s partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Next season the long-time conference member will join the Big-10.
The loss to the Seminoles just caps off an emotionally trying week for Maryland, who did their best to take time to mourn and still prepare for a basketball game taking place just two days after the team manager’s death. Although Lederer’s death was not entirely a surprise, it still caught the program off guard. The manager was taken off of life support back in January to again fight his brain cancer from his home, and even though death was always a very real possibility, when it actually happened it was difficult for the players to accept.
The timing of the death also made it difficult to give Lederer the memorial he deserved. The inspirational leader died on Tuesday and the Terps were scheduled to arrive in North Carolina for the ACC tournament on Wednesday. Players, fans and coaches decided to hold a Tuesday night candlelight vigil to honor Lederer and his family before boarding a plane on Wednesday morning. At the vigil, guard Dez Wells and forward Spencer Parks addressed the crowd of mourners, which it is estimated, numbered in the hundreds. After the vigil, Wells said that Lederer was successful because of the number of lives that he touched. He went on to say how special of a person the former team manager was, and how getting to know him helped the guard keep things in the proper perspective.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon echoed Wells’ words. He explained how Lederer not only made a difference on the team, but he had a powerful impact over the entire campus community. He called Lederer an inspiration and an outstanding young man.
Two days after their former manager died, perhaps falling to Florida State was to be somewhat expected. However, Maryland fought admirably and can honestly say that they left it all out on the floor, just like Lederer would have wanted.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika