I'm trying a new feature on the blog this year where we interview a potential recruit every few weeks. We led off with an interview of Verona, Wisconsin native Joey Fiala.
Next up in the series is Zach Stepan, cousin of former Badger and current New York Ranger, Derek. Zach is a 1994 born forward who plays for the Shattuck Prep team. He's considered one of the most elite 1994 born players uncommitted in the country.
Chuck Schwartz: You were given the opportunity this summer to go overseas with Team USA and you guys won a gold medal. Can you talk a little about what it was like to represent your country and play with some of the other elite players from around the United States?
Zach Stepan: The opportunity I was given over the summer is one that I will never forget! It was by far the best experience I have ever gotten not only on the hockey side of it, but on the touring side of it because we got to go to a couple different cities and walk around. It was a lot of fun. Also playing with the players I did get to play with made it all worth while because I knew after our first couple of practices that we were going to be a very talented team in all aspects of the game of hockey.
Chuck Schwartz: Your cousin, Derek made the move from Hastings high school to Shattuck St. Marys and you too have chosen to play your prep hockey at Shattuck. How has your experience been so far and do you anticipate playing your senior season there or moving on to the USHL where I believe Waterloo holds your rights?
Zach Stepan: Shattuck St. Mary's is an unbelievable school and I personally love the experience I get at this school. The hockey as well has been an amazing experience to play with some players that I have. I really do not know what I will do next year, all I can say is that I love this school and I love being here.
Chuck Schwartz: Its widely known that you missed a large chunk of last season due to the h1n1, and then mononucleosis and pneumonia. How nice is it to be back and (I’m assuming) healthy and primed for a big season with the Shattuck Prep team?
Zach Stepan: To be honest it is the most amazing feeling to be healthy again after going through that. That was the worst possible thing that could happen to a hockey player during the season other than hockey ending circumstances. It all happened so fast and it was so horrid to have h1n1 and than right after having mono and pneumonia at the same time. I felt like I would never get my legs back after those illnesses. Now to be back and playing good hockey is a great feeling that hopefully does not go away.
Chuck Schwartz: By the nature of your last name and the success of your cousin (who is doing awesome in the NHL by the way), I would surprised if there wasn’t an added pressure for you to live up to expectations. How are you handling the pressure of the Stepan name?
Zach Stepan: There actually is no pressure with the last name that I have. A lot of people think there is and I can see where they are coming from. I look at it as cool because I get to tell people how much fun it was when we were younger that I played street hockey with him in my driveway and taught him a few things that probably helped him haha. But I looked at it as we are two different people fighting for the same dream and no matter how hard it is to play in the NHL, all I am worried about is making it, not to one up the accomplishments he has acquired.
Chuck Schwartz: By my count, over forty 1994 born hockey players have committed to colleges so far, do you feel pressure to get your commitment out of the way and when do you see yourself making a decision?
Zach Stepan: I do not feel pressure at all to get my commitment out of the way, I want to pick the right school and I know it will hit me when I see the right school, that that is the school I will want to go to.
Chuck Schwartz: In an interview over the summer you mentioned you had interest in Denver, Boston College, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Have you narrowed your list at all and who is on it at this point?
Zach Stepan: That was just a couple I would be interested in. I am pretty much open for anything at this point because there are so many great schools out there that I do not want to keep my mind stuck on just a couple unless I really know deep down those are truly possible places I would like to attend.
We can't thank Zach enough for taking the time of of his busy schedule to do an interview with us. Very well thought out answers. Best of luck with the Shattuck Prep team this season.
Follow me on Twitter