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Whitefish senior Zonich to study for coaching career at Clemson

by JULIE ENGLER
Whitefish Pilot | May 29, 2024 12:00 AM

Whitefish High School senior Raymond Zonich soon will be heading to Clemson University in upstate South Carolina, and he seems more than ready for the change.

“I’m going to go study sports management and then I'm going to try and help out with the football coaching staff,” he said. “I think I'm going to be helping break down film for their opponents. Just like analyzing that. I’m excited.”

Zonich has played football since third grade and wants to become a coach. He is a student of the game and is interested in more than just the physical part that everyone sees. 

“He’s such an asset to our program in so many ways and just a great example of a selfless team player who filled so many gaps,” Whitefish head football coach Brett Bollweg said. “He played many different roles within our program – all of them super valuable.”

Bollweg said Zonich understands the pieces that go into making a successful team, including character and leadership. He said Zonich is going to be a great coach.

“He is someone who understands the logistical parts of the game,” Bollweg said. “He gets the bigger picture of the game like not a lot of 17-, 18-year-old guys do. He loves the culture part of it, too, which is such a critical piece of high school sports.”

Whitefish offensive coordinator Daniel McKay was able to arrange a meeting for Zonich with the director of football administration at Clemson.

“I went on a tour and met the contact that I used to get in that role,” Zonich said. “It's beautiful down there. It’ll be hot.”

While he is a bit disappointed that he will not be skiing all season, he is looking on the bright side.

“That’s kind of a bummer, but there is winter break,” he said.

Zonich grew up in Scappoose, Oregon, outside of Portland, like his dad. The family moved to Whitefish the summer before Zonich’s junior year.

He said his parents, Cory and Meghan, fell in love with the place after a spring break ski trip to the Big Mountain. Although Zonich loves the outdoor recreational opportunities in the Flathead Valley and values being close to the ski resort, moving during high school was a difficult transition.

“It’s rough. I feel like it's better for my sister (Maggie). She was a freshman when we moved, so I think that’s easier,” he said. “Moving as an upperclassman was tough.

“It's like, I haven't had to make friends since kindergarten,” he added. “I'm still best friends with people I was best friends with when I was 5.”

Senior year was better for Zonich. He has been making more friends and becoming more involved in school activities. 

“Do everything that you are interested in – activities, clubs, sports,” Zonich said. “You never know what kind of people you will meet.

“I've only been here two years, so I'm getting to know everybody, still,” Zonich said. “I do football, track, and Young Life and FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I’m really involved with those.”

He was a backup quarterback for the Bulldogs and participated in the throwing events for the track team. His impressive personal records include 111-7 in the javelin, 91-11 in discus and 34-4.5 for the shot put.

After working in the classroom and on the athletic fields for years, Zonich admits to feeling some senioritis with just a couple weeks of school to go.

“This senior year, I just want to be done with it,” he said with a smile.