Being a Division 1 prospect is many high school kid’s dreams, but how many would put that dream on hold for something they believed in? The ability to stand up for what you believe in is sadly unheard of nowadays, but Aaron Zwahlen is here to tell about his journey. Aaron attended Thomas Downey High School in Modesto, CA. In his senior season, the fall of 2012, Zwahlen was rated 11th in the country at Quarterback, and had signed his commitment to the University of Hawaii.
While being ranked 11th at his position by ESPN, Aaron was graded very highly in the summary of him. ESPN left this note of him on his scouting report, “Zwahlen has been the most undervalued and overlooked quarterback prospect in the 2013 class. This is potentially an elite passer down the road with the measurables, arm strength and accuracy to blossom into a BCS starter with a high level of production.”
Zwahlen grew up in the mormon faith, and has a family history of going on a mission. Aaron had intended to go on a mission out of high school as well. This decision could have been at the cost of a football scholarship, but Aaron was serious about his faith and let things play out. “All of the coaches that recruited me supported me fully on serving a mission,” He said. Aaron would get called to serve in Maryland.
Aaron made his commitment to Hawaii in the summer of 2012, and had an agreement to that scholarship when he came back from his mission. Flash-forward to June of 2015, and Aaron is back from his mission and currently in Hawaii for summer football. Yours truly has been in a great friendship through going to high school and playing basketball together, it was an honor to discuss Aaron’s journey below.
Hey Aaron, where abouts were you in Maryland exactly? How was the daily routine there?
A: I loved living in Maryland, the people there were great. Our mission covered parts of northern Virginia and I spent my first 6 months in Virginia, then in Maryland I served in Mount Airy, Brooklyn Park, and Columbia which were all great areas. Brooklyn Park is a neighborhood in Baltimore City and I spent 3 months there. The daily routine for me was to wake up at 6 am, workout for an hour, then get ready for the day from 7-8, study the scriptures from 8-10:30 and then go out and talk to people and teach them about the Savior, with some time here and there for lunch and dinner.
Getting called to do a mission, was it difficult for you to prepare for? Did you have doubt about football working out or were you optimistic about getting to do a mission and football?
A: If I had made the choice to serve a mission right before I left, I probably wouldn’t have gone. But I grew up knowing I was going to serve and being blessed to play football on top of that was more the reason to give back to the Lord.
Did you get time to train while on your mission?
A: Yes, we were given time to exercise in the mornings and all of my companions were willing to either throw or go to someone’s house to lift weights.
Any memorable story you'll never forget while you were there?
A: Too many! Haha. I will never forget the hours we spent stacking hay for this elderly man in his barn in the dead heat of summer. At first it seemed like a pointless act of service, but seeing how happy he was once we were done made it all worth it.
How's the competition changed compared to high school? Do you feel more prepared for it mentally now that you've had 2 years in between high school and college football?
A: In the last 2 years I have learned so many things, some not relevant at all to football, but surprisingly a lot of the principles are the same in any situation. Study habits, obedience, and not giving up in tough situations.
Now that you're headed to Hawaii and in your first month there for spring football, how is it?
A: I absolutely love it. The team really pushes each other on and off the field. Everyone has a great attitude and is excited for week 1!
Are you excited for what this season holds? Hows your playing time situation?
A: I am really excited for this season. I am surrounded by a great group of people who push me and help me become better each and every day.