Once a member of the Blue-Grey Football family, always a member. Apparently, those often unspoken words were somehow clearly understood by Blue-Grey All-American Bowl alum Nick Zalkow from the time he set first foot on the field for the brand’s Regional Combine, then participated in a Super Combine, and ultimately, lined up in an NFL stadium for the big game.
To this day, in fact, he remains heavily involved with Blue-Grey Football. So much so, to that end, the senior from Scottsdale Christian Academy (AZ) has started to give back. Zalkow recently set up a yearly scholarship program to help future Blue-Grey Football athletes with funds for not only the series of combines, but also the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.
“As someone who has gone through the system with Blue-Grey Football, I know of the positive impact the experience can make on an individual’s life, both on and off the field. Young men, like myself, learn about being the best athlete they can be. Maybe more importantly, we’re given tools to be someone who can make a difference in the community,” said Zalkow, who’s doing just that with his Every Kid Plays Foundation.
In terms of making a difference on the gridiron, he’s proven capable of doing so in a short amount of time. The 5-foot-11 and 220-pound linebacker first opened up eyes during the Blue-Grey Regional Combine at the Arizona Cardinals’ facility this time last year. Months later, Zalkow impressed during the Blue-Grey Super Combine at College of San Mateo (CA).
Not long after, the selection committee started to discuss rosters for the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl and his name was a hot topic of conversation. It was a no-brainer decision: Zalkow received an invite, then turned out to be a key member for the West in a 7-6 victory over the East during December’s game at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
“He worked his tail off to play in our Blue-Grey All-American Bowl and earned a spot, we were glad to have him too, Nick made a big difference,” said NFL veteran Mark McMillian, who coached Zalkow and the West. “Everything about him, both on and off the field, he’s good representation of what Blue-Grey Football is all about. He has the blueprint.”
With a bright future ahead, and plans in place to attend San Diego State next year, Zalkow is confident about his direction in life. Still, he remains humble and frequently acknowledges the past. Particularly when it comes to the roots of his Every Kid Plays Foundation, a 501c3 entity essentially born after some inspiring words from his father, Andy Zalkow.
“When I was in eighth grade, and played football for Pop Warner, the team we were supposed to face, unfortunately, was forced to forfeit due to overdue fees,” Zalkow said. “I talked to my dad about how things were unfair and an injustice. His response to me was, I’ll never forget it: ‘What are you going to do about it?’ I knew then, it was time for a change.
“Going into my sophomore year, I started the Every Kid Plays Foundation and I’ve been able to help out student-athletes at six different schools in the greater Phoenix area. It’s been rewarding. Now, I want to do the same thing with with Blue-Grey Football and welcome as many people as possible into the family. Everyone deserves the same chance I received.”
He’s already making a difference. Multiple prospects have benefited from the scholarship set by Zalkow and many of the country’s recruits continue to receive funds for the Blue-Grey Regional and Super Combines. Options are also available for the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. That scenario does not figure to change any time soon given his commitment to the process.
“I’m proud of my son, proud of the fact that he remains involved with the Blue-Grey Football family,” Andy Zalkow said. “Words can’t describe how I feel. (Blue-Grey Football CEO) Gus Bell, and his staff of NFL veteran coaches, they made an impression on Nick right away and have helped to point him down the right path. Now, he’s excited about the future, and also, giving back.”