Zach Kirby was born and grew up in Georgia. After high school his pursuit of knowledge and soccer took him north to Boston University. His final season he was the 2006 All-America East Conference Defender of the Year, College Soccer News All-American, among other honors. This bought him to the attention of Alexi Lalas and he was drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. Zach became the answer to a trivia question as he was released to free up a roster spot for David Beckham. He finished out the year playing for the USL Wilmington Hammerheads. 2008 saw him return home to play for the Atlanta Silverbacks. With Atlanta sitting out the 2009 Zach traveled south and became a member of the Miami FC Blues.
Our good friend and Miami Ultra Robert Scorca asked him a few questions:
Robert Scorca: Marietta is only 15 miles from Atlanta. Were you a fan of the Silverbacks?
Zach Kirby: Yes. I also remember attending games when they were called the Atlanta Ruckus.
RS: During your childhood who was the athlete you look up to?
ZK: There was never one athlete in particular. I enjoy talent from a very wide spectrum. If the person was fun to watch I would take a liking to them.
RS: Who is the person who was most influential in your development as a player and a person?
ZK: There are multiple people that contributed to my success on and off the field. As a youth player, the primary mentors were my Olympic Development Program coach Kerem Daser who is currently at the helm of Georgia State University and my club coach, Dave Smith, who is the kingpin of club soccer in the greater Atlanta area. My collegiate profile was strongly influenced by two coaches from Boston University, Andy Fleming and Neil Roberts. Their guidance helped me become the person I am today. Lastly, none of this could have been remotely possible without the unconditional support, motivation, and love from my parents and grandparents.
RS: You had a successful college career and were drafted by the L.A. Galaxy. Even though your stay was brief are there any memories you care to share?
ZK: Yes. I remember it like it was yesterday. Defending Landon Donovan was one of the many highlights.
RS: Last season, on July 19th Johan Claesson and you went up for the ball in a game against the Portland Timber. The ensuing collision was heard in the stands and knocked both players out of the game. Can you recap the injury for us?
ZK: The injury I received was a tough setback. I jumped into the air to head the ball up the field and was blind sided by an opposing player resulting in a large wound and a concussion. The team doctor put ten stitches in my head shortly thereafter and then I proceeded to the emergency room. The hospital stay was brief, but the residual effects of the collision lasted for approximately three weeks. It was difficult to come back from, but I slowly eased my way into the field.
RS: It seemed natural that you would come to the attention of Jason Smith, Head Coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks. When did you first come in contact with him?
ZK: At the 2007 MLS Combine in Ft. Lauderdale.
RS: Alex Pineda Chacon was a coach of yours with the Silverbacks. He is also a fan favorite from the Miami Fusion days. Please share some observations or items of interest.
ZK: Alex is a great person and an extremely talented player. He would always train with us in Atlanta and has not lost a beat in his game.
RS: After the Silverbacks decision to sit out the 2009 season you ended up playing for Miami FC. How did this come about?
ZK: I took a leap of faith. I packed my car to move to Miami on a whim, and it definitely worked out for the best.
RS: One of the Miami Ultras (Brian Corey) nicknamed you Beowulf. The name stuck so we will not change it. If you had to pick a nickname for yourself what would it be.
ZK: Only Beowulf. Although Thor and Beckenbauer are some other nicknames that I have been honored with in the past.
RS: Rumor alert! The first winner of the 2008 Miami Ultras Player of the Year award (Alex Afonso) upon receiving the trophy immediately left to Brazil. The location of the 2009 Miami Ultras Player of the Year trophy won by Zach Kirby is a mystery. Rumor has it Pieter Brown (President of the Miami Ultras) kept it for himself. Another rumor has it used as a flower vase. Last, in theBeowolf tradition it is being used as a beer mug on South Beach. Can you shed any light on the mystery of the location of your Ultra Player of the Year Trophy?
ZK: The last thing I heard was that it was stolen by my old roommate Tim Merritt and was on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill. God only knows what he has been doing with it...
RS: Any advice for young footballers?
ZK:Set your goals high and you will achieve what you want through hard work and commitment. Most importantly, enjoy what you are doing. Happiness is an essential ingredient to success.
RS: Closing thoughts and remarks?
ZK: I am looking forward to a successful season with Miami FC and I would like to thank all of the fans for their continued motivation and support.