GERMANTOWN -- Young athletes usually get excited when parents come see them play. One father in Germantown has seen his son play every single one of his high school basketball games, and the closer that father looks, the more he sees himself.
Germantown High School's Zak Showalter is the number one player on the number one ranked boy's high school basketball team in Wisconsin. The 6'2" senior has led the 26-0 Warhawks to within two wins of a state championship. "No doubt, that is the final goal for every team, but it is much more realistic for us, I think, with this team we have built," Zak Showalter said.
Win or lose this weekend in Madison, Showalter's future is crystal clear. Showalter shunned 15 scholarship offers to sign with the Wisconsin Badgers as a preferred walk-on, where he'll play for Coach Bo Ryan. "I am extremely excited. Growing up I have always known that is the school I want to be going to," Zak Showalter said. "He's the easiest guy to play for. He demands a lot, but if you will stay on task and do what you're told, and keep your mouth shut and work hard, you can be a star," Steve Showalter said.
Showalter's head coach, who happens to be his father, knows what he's talking about. Steve Showalter was a star player for Coach Ryan in the mid-to-late 80s when Ryan coached at UW-Platteville. "I don't think I've ever heard of that happening before - a dad and a son playing for the same coach, so it's going to be fun," Zak Showalter said. A member of the Pioneers Hall of Fame, Showalter went on to assist Ryan on the bench. He only half jokes - that was tougher than his current job as a Germantown police officer.
The Warhawks reflect their coach's discipline, strength and character. Both father and son are ultra-competitive. "People are starting to say that he might be better. Now, I'm not going to give him that crown yet. "He doesn't want to lose a game any more than I don't want to lose a game, so on the court there's no other way to play than give it all you got," Zak Showalter said.
Given the competitor that he is, Steve Showalter would never admit that his son has the potential to be a better college basketball player than he was. However, he has to admit to one thing, and he has."Coach always says he's a little jealous of Zak. Whenever we watch film, he's like 'if I would have just gotten that athleticism," one player said.
Germantown fell short of a trip to Madison last year. This season's squad, led by nine seniors, has been on a mission all season to atone for that. Now that the journey is almost complete, the Showalters will have a chance to look back on experiences they've shared that will last a lifetime. "I love him and it's been fun. When I graduate, we're going to remember these days for the rest of our lives," Zak Showalter said. "It's been tough. Senior Night was really difficult for us here," Steve Showalter said.
"Most kids don't get to experience this brotherhood that we get with us nine playing together since we were in fifth grade. People say 'is your ultimate goal the championship?' Well, of course, I want to win and I have always wanted to win, but I just don't want this group to go," Zak Showalter said.
When Zak Showalter graduates, Steve Showalter will still have a son on the team. Jake is playing on the varsity team this season as a sophomore.