CONYERS - As players become more focused on one sport, the number of two-sport, and even three-sport, stars at the high school level is becoming less and less.
So to say that Salem's Zach Roddenberry is a diamond in the rough is a bit of an understatement.
On the football field, Roddenberry was a monster in the trenches. A three-year starter at defensive end, he helped lead his team to two Region 8-AAAA championships. This fall, he led his team in sacks with six. He also tallied 79 tackles and seven quarterback hurries.
On the basketball court, Roddenberry was a model of consistency and turned in a double-double nearly every night. He finished the year averaging a team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds a game while shooting 64 percent from the floor.
But it's not just those reasons why Roddenberry is the Citizen's 2008 Salem Athlete of the Year. It's because he is the archetype of what a student-athlete is.
Just ask his coaches.
"The thing about Zach is that he's a great person. He works hard, he's never had an attitude problem and he's always been a great student," Salem boys basketball coach Darren Wilkins said. "He's the kind of player that you like to build your team around. He's a good, reliable guy.
"The thing about him, from his freshman year to his senior year, he improved each year and each day. But what really sets him apart is the kind of guy and the kind of person he is. Another thing I liked about him was his work ethic. He was always giving his best effort, and his attitude was always good. He was always willing to learn and improve."
Anyone preparing to face the Seminoles on the basketball court knew that Roddenberry was their go-to guy.
"For the past two years, he's been the main focal point of our offense and he came through just about every time. Each game going in, he knew he was going to get double-teamed and sometimes triple-teamed, but he still came through," Wilkins said. "That's just outstanding, especially knowing the kind of attention he was going to draw from the other team. We knew he was going to make his contribution every night and be very consistent for us."
Salem football coach Chad Estes also noted how Roddenberry was a top-notch performer on and off the field.
"Zach is a fine young man. He has a great foundation at home, and he's an excellent student," Estes said. "I can't say enough about the kind of individual he is, much less the type of player he is. He's a class act. He exemplifies the student-athlete. He's what you're looking for on a team and I wish I had 22 more just like him. He's that kind of individual."
Estes said Roddenberry had a switch that he could turn on come game time.
"He has that little something you're looking for. You might call it a streak," Estes said. "He likes to engage in the physical nature of the game, and you wouldn't think that with how mild-mannered he is off the field. On the field, he's got that streak. He likes to compete, he wants to win and he understands the nature of the game."
Estes said Roddenberry brought the one thing that all coaches look for in a player of his caliber - consistency.
"You knew he was going to be at practice every day. He's going to show up and play hard," Estes said. "Zach Roddenberry is going to be there. He didn't get injured, he was very durable and he was always there. To me, he's a solid football player and that goes back to him being a solid citizen and a solid individual. You don't have to worry about him. He's going to be at practice and he's going to do what he has to do in the ball game."
Roddenberry is now taking his talents to the next level after signing a basketball scholarship with Harding University.
SideBar: Past winners
1999: Josh Locke
2000: Brandy Joseph
2001: Jason Guest
2002: Alison Joe
2003: B.J. Franklin
2004: Jamil Hubbard
2005: Nickey Newson
2006: Kyle Allen
2007: Chelsea Denson