Ben Belton and Zack Bresko split the goalie work at East Kentwood.

Zack Bresko

Ben Belton

Situations that are out of the ordinary can bring out the best or worst in people. The Kentwood hockey team has an extraordinary situation in that two seniors, Zack Bresko and Ben Belton, share the goalie position. In fact, Ben and Zack have been the varsity goalies for the past three seasons. After speaking with coach Todd Bell, we are happy to report that the job sharing between these two young men is working out just fine. He considers both of them “mature beyond their years.”
“It is a great situation for a coach because both of them are great competitors,” Bell related. “Regardless of who is in the net, the other guys on the team know they are secure.”
In a highly competitive sport like high school hockey it would be easy, and almost expected, for one of these two young men to want to take over the position and dominate the other. Such is not the case with Zack and Ben. Not only has their situation brought their sportsmanship to the forefront, all reports indicate that it has also kept them at the top of their respective games because neither one wants to give up his playing time to the other. The support each other and offer encouragement from the bench when the other is playing.
One interesting note about these two is that while they have a few similarities – such as the fact that both of their fathers played hockey – for the most part they are two distinctive people even down to their style of play. Ben is a stand up goalie – he guards the net in an upright position. Zack plays in what is described as a “butterfly” position with his arms and legs spread out like a butterfly. Off the ice, Zack is more of a vocal guy and Ben seems more quiet and reserved. On the ice Ben is a little looser while Zack has certain rituals he follows when preparing to guard the goal. Their biggest similarity is that they both get the job done. Coach Bell explained that their stats mirror each other season after season.
Ben is the number three child of Chuck and Lisa Belton. According to his mom, hockey is Bens number one passion – something “he lives and breathes”. He would love to play for a college team and he is planning on trying out for a junior traveling team in the NAHL this spring. He is just as serious about his schoolwork. He has a 3.0 GPA and because of his dyslexia probably has to work twice as hard as someone without it to maintain grades like that.
Lisa Belton told us that Ben never complains about the challenges of dyslexia. She is convinced that “hockey helped pull him through.” She also shared that Ben has been involved in the Reptile Club at school and has been a part of presentations about reptiles at many places in the area. While Ben has several lizards living at home with the other family pets, Lisa has drawn a line that does not allow any of the Clubs hundred or more snakes to live at the Belton’s.
Zack started roller blading in the driveway and that started his hockey career. While coach Bell commented that Zack is the louder of the two goalies, Julie Bresko said her son is generally very quiet around the house. Don’t confuse that with shyness, because Zack has been able and willing to communicate with adults almost since he could speak. He also speaks his mind, but in a polite manner.
Besides hockey, Zack is passionate about a couple of other things: golf and playing the guitar. He has been on the Kentwood golf team for three years and has worked at The Pines for the last two seasons. Five years ago Zack bought himself a used guitar at a neighborhood garage sale. His dad, Jim, taught him a few chords but Zack really took it from there. He got online and taught himself an awful lot more. These days he plays both acoustic and electric guitars and his parents are amazed at what he is playing.
Bresko does well in school – his GPA is consistently over 3.5. He really enjoys his AP History and Psychology classes. Zack would like nothing better than to attend WMU, play on their hockey team, and earn a degree as either a history teacher or maybe even a psychologist.
Not only have Zack and Ben bonded and benefited from their job sharing, but their parents have enjoyed it as well. Both families spoke well of the others and expressed how pleased they have been with the unusual arrangement and the positive effect it has had on their sons. Both mentioned how Ben and Zack have consistently put aside their own desires and ambitions to do what is best for the team. Credit was also given to the “great organization, coaches, and talented teammates” they have enjoyed while playing hockey for Kentwood. Great attitudes and good sportsmanship seem to run deep in both families – it is no wonder Ben and Zack have done so well in this unusual situation.
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