On March 29, 1960, Richard Alan Zalenski was born to his parents AJ and Frances Zalenski, who had no idea just how many lives their son would touch, guide, influence, inspire and change forever.
Richard grew up at his home in Dearborn, Michigan with his three older sisters: Veronica, Joan and Lisa. Before graduating from Fordson High School, Richard had the incredible experience of spending his teenage years as the batboy and clubhouse manager for the Detroit Tigers. Richard moved on to Michigan Christian College and Concordia College where, in 1984, he earned his Bachelor Degree in Education. In 1989, he completed his Master's Degree in Business Administration and earned Summa Cum Laude Honors with a 4.0 GPA.
Following his life's passion, Richard began his coaching career in 1986 as the head basketball coach for St. Mary's College in Orchard Lake, Michigan and came to be known as the highly respected "Coach Z." Over the next 4 years, Richard served as head basketball coach at Bristol University in Tennessee and then accepted the leading position at Northland Pioneer College in Holbrook, Arizona. Throughout this short career, Coach Z's teams won 3 Regional Championships, 2 A.C.C.A.C. titles, as well as being nationally ranked in the top 25 during 10 seasons.
In 1998, Richard suffered a life changing stroke that prematurely ended his head coaching career and separated him from the basketball court where his heart and passion remained. Even though Coach Z was away from the game, his positive influence and guidance continued. In reality, it was at this time that Richard touched so many lives and inspired any and all who had the honor to meet him. At any given time of the day, it was normal to find a former player/student, a friend or a colleague on the phone or at Richard's house seeking his knowledge, wisdom, encouragement or inspiration. And, Coach Z never denied anyone the time nor did they ever leave his presence disappointed.
Coach Z never once could be heard complaining or be seen as bitter or resentful. Instead, Richard constantly praised his Lord and Savior for the countless blessings in his life and none as great and wonderful as his children: Garrett, Lindsey and Corey.
On December 9, 2013, Richard was called to be with his Lord Jesus Christ. He left behind hundreds who will miss him, but will cherish the time we did have with him. Family members who continue to carry on Richard's name and legacy are his children Garrett, Lindsey and Corey and their loving mother Annette, his sister Veronica and her husband Steve Dunbar, his sister Joan and her husband Brian Dugay, and his sister Lisa Zalenski.
Richard may not be with us any longer, but his influence and inspiration will continue to live on in all of us and be passed on through countless generations. "The two things in life you can control are attitude and effort."