Greenberg during his time with Grant Park
Grant Park Pirates alum Zach Greenberg is well known for his versatility on the football field.
The former team captain suited up on offence as a tight end, defence as a defensive end and played on all four special teams units while in high school. However it's his abilities as a long snapper -- a speciality he didn't pursue until grade ten -- that earned him a scholarship to NCAA Division II Minnesota Crookston and now a contract with the hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"For me I was okay at defensive end and I was okay at tight end, but long snapping was a position where I knew I could grow at and maybe make a career of,” Greenberg says.
“Hopefully I’m at the starting point for that right now.”
Unsurprisingly, the product of the Crescentwood Grizzlies says that consistent repetition has been a major key to honing his craft as a snapper.
He credits his dad Al, a former athlete at the University of Jamestown and University of Manitoba for helping him stay dedicated to practicing during the early portions of his snapping tenure with the Pirates.
“He knew a lot of the techniques and definitely guided me in the right direction. There have been days where I’ve been like oh I’m too lazy I don’t feel like going out and snapping right now, and he’d tell me ‘we’re going outside.’ If he hadn’t done that it would have taken me a lot longer and it would’ve been a lot harder.”
Greenberg’s training paid off in the long-term, as he was UMC’s primary long snapper as a true freshman in 2015 and continued to thrive as his career progressed.
He worked 3-4 days a week with the team’s punter and other snapper during his tenure and also grinded three days a week with his dad whenever he was home for winter break or over the summer.
He also got some work in with St. Paul’s alum and former BC Lions long snapper Mike Benson, who continues to give back to the community as a coach and trainer.
“Doing all those little things are what’s put me in the position I’m in now.”
After grinding for four seasons, the former UMC Sport and Rec Student of the Year’s professional dreams came true this past week when the Bombers officially signed him to a contract. He was brought in to try out on Sunday morning with kicker Justin Medlock as well as fellow long snapper Chad Rempel and general manager Kyle Walters was pleased with what he saw.
Greenberg says the week of practice has been “surreal” with Medlock in particular providing a helping hand with various pointers.
“Medlock has sort of taken me under his wing and shown me various things, like how to tweak my short snaps for field goals, distances and different grips. Stuff like that. It’s definitely been a great experience for me.”
Tonight, the River Heights native will suit up in his first-ever pro game as the Bombers host Edmonton in exhibition play. He’ll have his family, die-hard CFL fans for as long as he can remember in the stands cheering him on, but this time he’ll be on the other side of things.
“It’s been something I’ve wanted my whole life. My uncle has had season tickets for pretty much my whole life, so I’ve been going to the games for as long as I can remember. It’s hard to really put this experience into words. Running out through the tunnel is going to be the most amazing feeling and I think that’s when it’s really going to sink in.”