Reigning MASCAC Football Defensive Player of the Year Zach Howard can add another award to his trophy cabinet as he was named the 2019 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year which is determined by the eight Athletic Directors from around the league.
This latest honor is one of many for the Owls linebacker. He is a three-time MASCAC All-Conference honoree while also earning Westfield State Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2018. During the 2018 season, he took home New England Football Writers Division II/III All-Star accolades and D3football.com All-East Region honors plus was a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award which is given to the top collegiate linebacker.
Although he started his collegiate football career as a reserve running back, he quickly traded it in for a spot on the Owls defense. Howard collected 247 total tackles, including 146 solo during his Westfield State career. He also finished with 28.5 tackles for a loss, six pass break ups and three interceptions for a total of 110 yards. His senior year, he registered 104 tackles, including 58 solo along with 11.5 tackles for a loss of 39 yards on his way to earning MASCAC Defensive Player of the Year and All-Conference.
Howard's success wasn't limited to the gridiron. He graduated in May of 2018 with a degree in criminal justice and a GPA of 3.657. Shortly after, he began taking classes towards a master's degree in criminal justice with the goal of finishing in a year. He currently holds a 3.785 GPA in the program.
Throughout his academic career, he was a five-time MASCAC All-Academic Team honoree and Westfield State Dean's Honor List honoree from September 2014-May 2018. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society, Chi Alpha Sigma National Athletic Honor Society, Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society and Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society in 2018-19. For all his athletic and academic achievements, Howard was named the 2018-19 Westfield State Male Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Using his football expertise, Howard volunteered annually with Special Olympics hosting a flag football tournament on campus. During the summer 2015-2017, he was an intern with Flexcon Inc. as a logistics coordinator. Since December of 2017, he has worked for the BirchTree Bread Company, coordinating kitchen staff and managing daily inventory and quality control.
The MASCAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year has been awarded annually since 1980 to a student-athlete who has excelled in both the classroom and field of play while maintaining at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average through their last year of athletic eligibility.