by Luke Schwartz | Staff Writer
Zanskar Blair came a long way to play soccer for the Pirates-Hong Kong is approximately 6,636 miles from Spokane-but his journey is unlike anyone else’s.
For the First 18 years of his life, Blair resided happily in Hong Kong. Soccer was his first love and one that inspired him to come to the U.S. and strive for the opportunity to play for a club team, though his plan didn’t include any connections, only a simple highlight video.
“I made a video on You Tube trying to showcase my skills and eventually emailed three coaches from the Sounders, Timbers, and Crossfire Academy,” said Blair. “I just let them know that I would be in the states during April of 2014 and each one responded quickly and were super welcoming.”
After coming to America and visiting each team, Zanskar had a choice to make: Which team?
“I ended up choosing the Sounders because they had the most professionalism and I worked the best with those teammates,” Blair said. “I moved in with my Aunt and Uncle and went to Newport High School for one year before the Sounders trials. It was tough moving around and trying to make friends as a senior, but I got used to it. I focused on soccer and getting recruited.”
Everything was going as planned. A successful move to Washington, a spot on the Sounders summer team, and the goal of playing Division I soccer was in sight and within reach, until he hit a stroke of bad luck.
“Unfortunately, I tore my ACL in the first month of joining the Sounders. It was a very difficult time in my recruiting process for me because all I wanted was to go, Division, I, but those offers were taken away immediately. Only Division II and III remained.”
Although heartbroken and discouraged from the injury, Blair’s mindset never faltered. He focused on getting his body back to a healthy state and began visiting colleges in hopes of receiving some offers. After visiting Gonzaga University, he turned his attention to the crimson and black of Whitworth University, where he discovered something different about the soccer program.
“After I visited Whitworth and Coach Morgan I compared every other coach to him that I met in the recruiting process. He was so intentional and wanted to know me as an individual. He strived to get the most of you not just on the field, but off the field too,” said Blair. “I chose Whitworth at the end of the day and I couldn’t be happier about it.”
For the last five years, the soccer organization has benefited from his character, hard work, and dedication. “He really leads and drives our culture by being an example for a lot of the younger guys,” said Sophomore forward Drew Wilson. “The biggest impact is not necessarily his on fieldwork, but more of the experience and maturity that he brings to the table.”
As the 2019 soccer season unfolds and Blair begins his final season wearing the crimson and black on his back, his legacy will live through the program for years to come.
“As he concludes his time here with us he is going to push us to be the best version of ourselves so we can reach that goal of getting to the NCAA tournament,” Wilson said. “It was such an awesome experience for him when he was able to go earlier in his time at Whitworth and his continual drive and motivation for us to get there will always be something we remember him for.”
The Pirates’ next game is on Friday, October 4th in Pacific, Oregon when they take on the Boxers.