At age 16, the stress of high school is plenty to handle and provides me with more than enough excitement. My extraordinary younger twin brother, Zach Pfeffer, is able to manage the stress of being a teenager as well as the life of being a professional athlete. He travels more than most people, let alone 16-year-old kids, and constantly most put his social affairs on hold to pursue his career. It is a fun lifestyle, but far from the stereotypical, glamorous lifestyle that is associated with professional athletes. Having said all of that, Zach is doing a tremendous job…… but I did not expect anything less than that.
From the minute Zach and I touched a soccer ball a certain glow radiated from his body when he came in contact with the ball, and a certain serenity arose when he stepped on the field. From Day one, he always managed to turn heads and impress coaches with his extreme composure on the ball and with the fluidity of his technical ability. As we started to grow and get older he spent most of his leisure time practicing soccer. When normal kids were watching TV, he was outside practicing. Whether it was raining, snowing or 100 degrees outside, it didn’t matter, Zach was always outside working to improve his soccer ability.
Of course this would all pay off for Zach when he signed his first professional contract with the Philadelphia Union. Now that he had reached his life long goal of becoming a professional athlete he had to prove to the world that he belonged out on the field with the best. Chivas de Guadalajara was his first big test in which he passed and even managed to rays some eyebrows. One year later he proved to a sold out PPL Park crowd that he could compete with EPL side Everton FC, and then proceeded to perform in front of a crowd of roughly 35,000 at the Lincoln Financial Field, proving that he could compete with the world class quality of Real Madrid. The question still remained, “When would Zach get his chance to make his official MLS appearance?”
On September 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm, my brother took the field as one of the starting center midfielders against the Columbus Crew, wearing the Union’s number 27 jersey. Was he nervous… no Zach was excited and prepared. He eased himself slowly into the game, getting involved early with a few touches on the ball. Looking at my brother on the field it was clear that he was out sized, but not out classed. His touch, his composure, and his technical ability were superb. You may have even confused him with a seasoned veteran if you had not known who he was. He even gave the crowd something to cheer for when he took Sebastian Letoux’s cross and turned it into a potential scoring opportunity.
For my family as well as myself, it was an incredible day. Watching Zach hold his own as a member of the starting eleven brought happiness as well as pride to our family. To see him perform as well as he did was amazing and we are all so proud of him. That night against Columbus, he proved to all of the doubters that he belongs at the highest level and that he can compete with the best.
For me though, I always knew this day would come. I’ve watched my brother grow and develop and although words can not explain how proud I am of Zach starting, I am even more proud of who he has become. He has developed from a boy to a man and from not only my best friend but to my hero as well. He is an inspiration to me and to so many other kids who dream of becoming a professional soccer player. He is a symbol to everyone that if you work hard at something, you can achieve your goals, and hopefully this is just the beginning of an incredible career.
– Jared Pfeffer