MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. -- It's not easy to stick through things when they become difficult. Many kids this day in age will find different hobbies if something becomes difficult or perhaps not going the way you envisioned.
That's not the case with Mount Carmel senior Zack Sutton.
The senior guard, much like his teammates, has played basketball since he was very young, starting at the YMCA level and gave up football and baseball to focus on basketball, which he found to be the most fun. Unlike his fellow seniors, Sutton doesn't receive a steady dosage of minutes on a nightly basis, but he's stuck with it and has continued to support the team nonetheless.
Though he's admittedly soft spoken, he enjoys helping out the underclassmen when he can, instructing them when they do things wrong, just setting them up for success in their future. Exemplifying his skills as a leader.
"I like to see other players succeed and develop themselves over time," Sutton said. "I try to help out the young players, tell them when they did something wrong, tell them when they did something right, kind of give them a hard time and be a friend for them at the same time."
Mount Carmel head coach Tyler Buss has really admired how Sutton has handled the situation and notes that every successful team he's had, has had a kid like Zack who just loves being apart of the program and puts the success of others in higher priority than that of their own.
"Zack's a kid that it seems like anytime we've had these good teams we always have these guys that I call program guys," coach Buss spoke of Sutton. "Have put the time in, have worked their way up from freshman to JV to varsity, they come to practice everyday and probably know coming into a season or a game that they're not going to get to play but they love the game and love being a part of this team. Just the fact that he's stuck around for four years, it's so easy this day in age for kids if they don't get playing time by the time they're a sophomore or junior, they find something else to do."
On the court Sutton feels his 3-point shot is his strong suit, coach Buss echoed that statement, noting that Mount Carmel uses his 3-point prowess on their scout team when preparing for a strong shooting game. He scored a career-high 25 points his freshman year on seven made 3-pointers, showing how capable of a shooter he is.
Outside the confines of the Hilltop, Sutton is an aspiring business-minded student. He's a member of FBLA and the CEO program, allowing students to showcase and develop their entrepreneurial skills. Many of his attributes on the court translate to the business setting as well, exemplifying his selflessness and capability to lead.
Sutton says he's always wanted to own a business or work on the business side of things, prompting him to decide on his pursuit of Aviation Management. His plan is to attend Wabash Valley College, get his degree and then attend Indiana State to get his Bachelor's.
His mom, Krissi Perry, says that her son is more than capable of achieving his dream and will help others along the way as well.
"Zack has worked extra hard during his senior year, already has several college credits, and has done his homework on future opportunities," Perry said. "A planner and a doer, he plans to turn his dreams into a reality and help others do the same."
Sutton's grandpa, Paul Tarpley, echoed many of Perry's remarks and said his skills as a capable and willing leader are tremendous. They believe that such skills and character will translate to Sutton's success upon graduation.
"He's a fine example for others to follow," Tarpley said. "He is the most collaborative person I have ever seen, giving all he has, but letting others be first, not showing discontent for giving up his fair share. He will make a leader for a great institution some day because he will put others first, keeping the main goal in mind. I see in him the competency and integrity I don't see in men three times his age."
It would likely come without surprise that Sutton's favorite vacation was traveling to help out those in need in Juarez, Mexico. Sutton and others built a house for those in need.
"He came back saying “going to a place like that to help a family in need will make a huge impact on a person for the rest of their life,"" Perry said. "He hopes to go to Guatemala with me, his sister, and grandpa to build another house next Christmas break. Zack is very smart, quiet and laid back. He doesn’t ask for much and likes to help other kids in need."
Like any other kid though Sutton enjoys some down time when he's free from his business pursuits, his work at Berryville Vineyards during the fall and summer, and basketball. He enjoys playing basketball with teammates and friends in his free time, playing video games (noting Red Dead Redemption 2 is a favorite of his right now) and his favorite team is the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA).
It's pretty surreal to Sutton how quick high school has went, with graduation and Senior Night (Feb. 15) rapdily approaching. He says it feels like it was just yesterday when he was a freshman entering school pursuing a love of basketball. As his high school career winds down, he hopes to possibly end this season and his career by going as far as the 2017 team that advanced to the state championship.
"Hope a lot of family and friends come along and cheer me on in my last home game as a senior," Sutton said. "It's going to be sad but I've enjoyed all of my time here. . . . I liked when we went to state, that was a fun time. Everyone was excited for Aces basketball and they still are. We plan to get that far again and I hope after I graduate they have that in their soon future too."
As for any takeaways from his time at Mount Carmel, Sutton had this to say.
"I'm going to remember the great basketball program and how much it developed me as a person. I hope to wish the future Aces a very successful future."
You can see Sutton and his fellow seniors on Senior Night on Friday (Feb. 15) against Washington. Tip-off for the JV team is set for 5:30 p.m. with the varsity team to follow. Senior Night festivities will occur prior to the varsity game.