Student-athletes commonly say that they chose Stanford because it is the best combination of academics and athletics. They come to Stanford with impressive credentials, ready to take on the challenge of balancing a heavy academic workload and the commitment of being a varsity athlete at a Division I school. It sounds like a cliché, but some of the best students and the best athletes in the nation choose Stanford in order to take on the challenge of doing both and being a true student-athlete.
For Zack Hensley, who comes from Monroe, Ohio, a small town in the western part of the state near Cincinnati, the decision to come to Stanford was an easy one.
"I got recruited to wrestle here and once I came on my visit, there was just no way to say no," says Hensley. "There were some easier roads I could have taken, but a Stanford degree is worth a lot in the real world. You can't beat it. It's the combination of good weather, great academics and great athletics - it's the only university in the whole country that can say that."
The decision to come to California may have been easy, but the choice to stay was not always so simple. Injuries put limits on Hensley's wrestling career, but he stayed the course, sticking with the team for five seasons and managing a academic load so that he will earn his degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering this June.
"I'm not a quitter," adds Hensley. "There were definitely times where I didn't want to [wrestle] any more, but I love it. I've tried to take a few weeks off a few times, but I missed it. There was no way I could walk away."
And even though his collegiate career will be coming to an end this season, Hensley already has a plan in place. After graduating this spring, Hensley will begin his new career as a Project Manager and Cost Estimator at Kelchner Environmental - a company he has worked for during the past three summers - at home in Ohio.
But he won't be giving up the balancing act just yet. During the days, Hensley will be responsible for city construction projects, but during the evenings he will be back on the mat. Hensley's older brother Nick, who wrestled at Shippensburg University, is an assistant at Hamilton High School and will take over the head coaching responsibilities next season. Zack will be joining Nick's staff as an assistant.
So after five years in California, Hensley will be returning to Ohio, with a Stanford engineering degree in hand and his passion for wrestling still strong.