Pablo Zilly ’21 still remembers promising Varsity Head Soccer Coach Marcellino Dumpit Jr. a state title as a Bush Middle School student. “When we got into high school, Brennan Kim ’21, Riley Nyhan ’21, and I said, ‘We are going to get you a state championship,’” Pablo said with a smile. “And it never happened until our final season. We were so happy to give Marcellino a state trophy our senior year given everything. Because of COVID-19 and the fact that we hadn’t been able to play for a year and half, all the players were pretty grateful.”
Those words of gratitude for an historic season carry special meaning for Pablo. After missing the 2020 season as a junior due to an injury, and the global pandemic cancelling all spring athletics for Blazer student-athletes, resuming any sort of normal season for the 2020-2021 academic year was not a guarantee.
As one of three captains for the soccer team, Pablo explained his role was to make sure to stay positive, keep the team morale high, and be a role model, even during a pandemic.
“My whole senior year I was going about it as if we were going to have a season,” Pablo said. “It was good to have one captain remain optimistic; I feel like I’m always hoping for the best.”
I remember Pablo from his days in Middle School,” Bush Athletics Director Jo Ito said. “He always stood out as a highly skilled and poised player. It was a pleasure to witness his growth throughout his career over the years - both as an athlete and more importantly as a person. His contributions to the soccer program were remarkable. Not only was he one of our top players, but his calm and collected leadership style helped him gain the respect of his teammates and opponent.”
Pablo was also instrumental leading up to the league championship season in making sure all the players stayed involved and connected despite being online or when transitioning back to in-person learning. As a senior last spring, he helped organize captain practices.
“That was just a good way for players to be seen and just play, bond a little more, and that’s the most fun part,” Pablo said.
The Blazers soccer team was given the go ahead to have an official spring 2021 season, but it did have restrictions and looked different, as players were required to wear masks while playing. While some found it difficult, again Pablo was there to remind the team to stay grateful for the opportunity to be on the field playing.
“Playing in a mask took more energy, but I kept telling the players who did have issues, it builds stamina and you’re going to get stronger, so really it was a blessing in disguise. I was trying to lead the way and showing a want to win and not take the season for granted.”
The Blazers finished the regular season with a 7-1 record and claimed the Emerald Sound Conference Boys Soccer Championship, beating Overlake 1-0 in overtime. Pablo, who played center-mid, was named the Most Valuable Player by league coaches.
“His ability to control the pace of the game, to create plays for his teammates, and to be a constant scoring threat are exceptional.,” Jo said. “The free kick goals he scored during his team’s championship campaign during his senior year will be remembered for years to come.”
This fall, Pablo, who is taking a gap year and wants to travel, gave back to the Bush community as the assistant soccer coach for The Bush Middle School White team. This winter he also is coaching basketball.
When we were hiring for a Middle School soccer coaching position this fall, Pablo was an obvious candidate,” Jo said. “Despite his young age, I had full confidence in him leaning into the role of being a mentor to our young soccer players. And once again, Pablo came through. He has been a welcome addition to our coaching staff and has had a meaningful impact on the players he coached.”
Pablo said the opportunity to be able to come back to Bush and share his passion for the game is something he’s honored to do.
“It’s definitely difficult getting Sixth and Seventh Grade students to listen,” he said with a laugh. “But it is really
nice to see them have fun playing the game that I love. And I want them to get as much as I do from the game, but the most important part is that they are all having fun.