When he stepped off the Carl W. Burt Memorial Field for the final time in his collegiate playing career last November, Zach Dashner knew he still wanted to be involved with his favorite pastime.
"There wasn't too much of a doubt," he reminisced. "I wanted to continue (in football) somehow … I figured it wouldn't be playing but as a coach or in another capacity."
Dashner, a 2014 Manchester University graduate, leaned on his sport management major to take that step. He was able to tap into an internship opening with USA Football upon his May graduation.
"I work with fundamentals for younger players and the Heads Up Football initiative with their coaches," he said. "I help with camps put on by a variety of individuals from USA Football officials to NFL players for the youth through their foundations as well as instructing and aiding in the coaching seminars."
"The coaching seminars deal with proper tackling form, concussion awareness, heat and hydration and equipment fitting," he added. "Through all of this, I had a chance to work with (San Francisco 49ers linebacker) Navarro Bowman's youth player clinic. As a fellow linebacker, that was an amazing experience."
Dashner was quick to credit two individuals from his alma mater for helping him realize the USA Football opportunity.
"Dr. (Ryan) Hedstrom(Exercise and Sport Sciences associate professor and Sport Management Club advisor) and Tami Hoagland (Manchester University Athletics and Exercise and Sport Sciences office manager) were great in helping me pursue (the internship)," he noted. "Dr. Hedstrom helped me with making contact and preparing for the interview process, while Tami was important in assisting me with the application process and so forth."
Dashner admitted he hopes to stay with the USA Football staff after his internship expires in August. However, if that doesn't work out, his career thoughts remain focused on football … plain and simple.
"I just want to continue to be a part of the game I loved to play (for so many years)," he said. "I feel it's important for people to look at how football is being played due to the recent rash of severe injuries, so it's been an awesome situation to work (at USA Football) with that in mind."