The Zeller Family Legacy

BAKERSFIELD, March 21, 2011— A 6’11” 245 lbs center out of Notre Dame, #21 Luke Zeller is known for his dangerous three-point shot and high basketball IQ. What you might not know about Luke is that his favorite subject in school was math, and that he wanted to be either a farmer or a basketball player when he was little.

Luke also has 2 younger brothers, Tyler and Cody. The Zeller brothers have collected numerous basketball accolades over the years, including McDonalds All-American honors and Indiana’s Mr.Basketball title; they’ve all worn #40 during their high school years in honor of their grandfather, which will be retired as a family number after Cody’s graduation this year; they’ve even broken each others statistical records. Basketball has been a tradition in the Zeller family for generations now as both of Luke’s parents, their grandfather, as well as their extended family members played basketball.

To continue their impact in the basketball world, the Zeller family organized and began running basketball camps for children of three different age groups. The camp’s mission statement reads, “Zeller Sports Academy will introduce a team oriented environment for positive character and leadership. Sports will be used to implement and demonstrate the traits necessary to be an ethical and positive leader on and off the field of competition. Zeller Sports Academy provides the foundation to life for these young people.” Last summer was the first year they successfully directed 2 camps in Indiana. This year there are now 6 confirmed basketball camps set to take place in May and June and they are still in the process of adding more. Luke’s wife, Hope, is launching a cheerleading division for the camp this year as well.

Luke’s inspiration to put on basketball camps came from his personal experience. “My brothers and I started dreaming about putting on basketball camps when we were in high school. I went to a lot of camps and retreats and I learned a lot from all of them.” When designing their camp, the Zeller brothers combined all of their experiences and decided to focus on teaching character and leadership. “We teach kids the right thing to do rather than the wrong thing. We teach them about respect, table manners, first impressions, good handshakes, things that are timeless. These are going to last a lot longer than just playing basketball. Even Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever, only played until he was 40 but what are you going to do for the rest of your life. Those are the skills we’re hoping to be able to teach kids through the basketball camps.”

Luke hopes to inspire and teach children the basketball and life skills that were taught to him when he was growing up. “I’ve been influenced positively by a lot of coaches and I feel like camps can be a way I can give back and be able to do what coaches and others have done for me. They have really taught me a lot of things, like how to do things the right way and work ethic, which have carried me a long way and I think it can help a lot of people the same way,” he explained.

Could this passion to teach the game of basketball and character translate into a future coaching career? Luke revealed that “I always dreamed about doing the camps. I figured I’ll just play and do the camps. Now that I’ve been doing the camps, I definitely want to coach.” His desire to pay it forward has also had a very positive influence on his own skill-set. “Since I’ve wanted to get into coaching, I feel like my playing has gotten better because I pay more attention to coaching and leadership. This helps me in my personal leadership and helps me learn how to follow in a correct way and respond in different ways to coaching strategies. I’ve been exposed to a lot of things that make you think and see the game differently, it helps a lot.”

The Zellers will soon be launching their fund-raising campaign to help cover the costs of running an effective and organized training camp. The money raised will cover the necessary costs of running the operations of the camp as well as providing scholarships to students who may not be able to participate otherwise. For more information on DistinXion, a division of Zeller Sports Academy, please visit http://distinxion.org/ There you can find information about the upcoming camps, such as dates, registration, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities as well as learn more about the Zeller family legacy in the making.