Northeastern’s Zach Stahl develops a love for working with kids


When he was attending Hopkins High School in Minnesota, Zach Stahl was active playing basketball, baseball and soccer. When he was not making his mark in athletic competition he would tend to his studies, spend time with his friends and cheer on his beloved Vikings.

Stahl also found time to assist others. He would team up with his father Dale to visit senior citizens that needed help getting some things done around the house. They would also visit individuals, especially kids, with disabilities who required assistance in accomplishing things that, frankly, are second nature to most of us.

“When I got to high school there were some programs that allowed me to get involved with kids with disabilities,” said Stahl, who is from Chanhassen, Minn., about a half-hour drive from the Twin Cities. “Working with kids is something that I really like to do.”

While many teens would rather not be bothered taking the time to help the less fortunate, lending his time and a helping hand is something that grew on Stahl, who is a senior guard/forward at Northeastern.

At Hopkins he befriended a fellow student who had Down Syndrome and was sure to spend some time with him every day, whether it was at lunch or studying.

“It definitely makes me feel good,” he said of the rewards that come with helping others. “The main goal for me is to make them feel comfortable, to fit in as much as possible. I do what I can to make sure they do not feel different.”

At Northeastern he has continued to succeed at doing just that. While a schedule that includes academics, practice, travel and games offers little wiggle room this time of year, Stahl has continued to help whenever he can. That includes visiting the school that Max Plansky attends.

Max is a teenager with cerebral palsy who has spent much time around the Huskies thanks to family basketball connections — his father, Michael, coached college hoops for 14 years and an uncle, Mark, was a member of Villanova’s 1985 national title team — and the great work of charitable organizations.

Max is somebody that Stahl has gotten to know well and serves as another reminder as how fortunate he and his teammates are.

“Being able to do what I do, to play sports and run around to get involved with all this stuff makes me feel very thankful for my situation,” he said. “Every time I do something I make sure I do it the best I can.”

That includes his effort on the hardwood. Through the Huskies’ first 10 games the 6-5 Stahl was third in scoring (12.3 points) while shooting 52% from the floor, and third in rebounds (6.2). Last season his 5.9 rebounds were good for second on the team.

After the psychology major graduates in the spring the hope is that he can land an opportunity to take his game to Europe or elsewhere abroad in an attempt to continue playing

“I would love to play overseas,” said Stahl, who had offers from other schools, but fell in love with Boston after first visiting Northeastern. “As long as my body lets me play I would like to do just that.”

When his playing days are over Stahl would like to focus on working with disadvantaged youths on a regular basis. He certainly is off to a great start and his athletic background coupled with his work in a team environment would make him a good fit on top of everything else he brings to the table.

“Once I am done playing basketball I would like to somehow work with kids with disabilities either doing physical therapy or helping within certain kinds of programs by coaching them,” he said. “Considering my basketball background I think it would be easy to connect with them and get them involved. I think that would be a great opportunity for me.”

No doubt that working with Stahl would also be a great opportunity for the kids.

On the cover: Zach Stahl, third from left, with Max Plansky, a teenager with cerebral palsy. (Courtesy of Northeastern Athletics)
Above: YouTube video courtesy of Northeastern Athletics
Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger is a freelance writer based in Glen Mills, Pa.