ONLY ON 3: Local coach impacting lives of at-risk youth
Story by: Lindsay Murray
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Zach Ferrell and his wife Rachel live in the Highland Park Neighborhood.
A former walk-on and later captain for the UTC men's basketball team, Zach is now impacting more than box scores.
"We wanted to go and be a light in a community that was really dark or struggling or having a hard time," Zach said.
Zach and Rachel have opened their home to children who have crime and poverty all around them. The kids come to eat, sleep, and to experience a safe environment.
"We moved there with the sole intention of just loving on our community, giving a safe place for kids to come, providing for some of those basic needs that they might have," Zach added.
"We had only been married about six days, they spent the night that first night, about 12-15 kids, and the next morning they asked what's for breakfast, and the rest is history," said his wife Rachel.
With the help of CSS Pastor Powell Grisham, the two put together a lacrosse team. It beats what the streets have to offer, but there were challenges.
"If not for Zach, this whole piece just doesn't come together," said Grisham.
Some players had never heard of lacrosse, others had never seen anyone who looked like them play the sport.
"Sometimes if we mess up a play, we bicker a little bit, but we're still a team," said one of the players.
Zach added, "I thought it was a great avenue that we could plug kids into a team concept and use that team in order to impact and teach them great life principles."
But there were still challenges.
Without most kids having transportation, the Ferrell's had to buy a van. Now they go door-to-door picking up, and dropping off, all to make sure each kid has an opportunity to play.
"When you're at one school, everyone just goes to that field afterwards. We're going from different fields to different fields. But it's been well worth it," said Zach.
In their first year playing lacrosse, the team won six games. That's six more than they expected.
A relationship that started as coach, and is now solidified as father-figure.
As for having a child of their own, Zach and Rachel are adopting a baby girl this August.