Self-disciplined and competitive, Jackson Zinn was utterly professional on the golf course. Despite his big heart for helping others, he might be hard on himself if he wasn’t filming in the 60s.
Family pastor Rick Long of Grace Church in Arvada, Colorado, said Zinn had just finished a tournament with his University of the Southwestern teammates in Texas when he called his father, Greg Zinn, to talk of what he thought had been a disappointing round.
“And he just said, ‘Jackson, you’re amazing. You’re not always going to score the way you want. You’ll be great. That was their last conversation,” Long said.
About an hour later, the college junior piled into a van with his teammates to return to New Mexico. It was on a two-lane farm road on Tuesday evening that a pickup truck collided head-on with the van, killing Zinn, his trainer and five teammates.
Authorities said Thursday the truck veered into their lane after a tire exploded. A 13-year-old who was behind the wheel and his passenger, Henrich Siemens, 38, of Seminole County, Texas, also died in the crash.
Jackson Zinn was close to his parents and two younger sisters, coached children playing in a special needs soccer league organized by his family, and was well-liked by co-workers at the Red Robin in suburban Denver where he worked. as a waiter when he was at home. from the school, Long said in an interview Thursday.
Zinn transferred to Southwestern University after spending a year at a military school in New Mexico, seeing it as an opportunity to both play golf and get a Christian education, he said. declared.
Zinn loved the smell of the golf course and the feel of the tees and clubs, and enjoyed being able to relax and play the church’s annual golf tournament to raise money for the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, said Long.
“He said it was the only place where he could play his game and play it well and not feel the pressure of having to play because he was doing it for a bigger mission, a bigger reason,” did he declare.
Most of the students killed in the crash were getting their first taste of life away from home at the private Christian university where on-campus enrollment hovers around 300.
They included freshmen Laci Stone from Nocona, Texas, Travis Garcia from Pleasanton, Texas, Mauricio Sanchez from Mexico and Tiago Sousa from Portugal. The school and the authorities did not communicate the hometowns of Sanchez and Sousa.
Junior Karisa Raines of Fort Stockton, Texas, and golf coach Tyler James of Hobbs, New Mexico were also killed.
The two injured students were identified by authorities as Dayton Price of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Hayden Underhill of Amherstview, Ontario, Canada.
Garcia was voted Pleasanton High School’s Most Valuable Player last year when he and his fellow Eagles made their first-ever appearance at the Texas State Championships. He was remembered by those who worked with him at a golf club near Pleasanton as a phenomenal child who made great strides in just a few years after buying a club for the first time.
Myles Dumont, Director of Golf Operations for the River Bend Golf Club. said Thursday that Garcia played a big role in his high school team’s success. He also said the teenager doesn’t mind spending hours and hours outdoors practicing his craft.
“He really fell in love with the game, and we were all very excited to see where his golf career would take him,” Dumont said. “We were really proud of him, really happy to see him get the opportunity to go play somewhere. The sky was the limit for him.
Sousa also had a “huge passion for golf”, said Renata Afonso, principal of Escola Secundária de Loulé, a high school he attended on the southern coast of Portugal.
“He was a very dedicated student, very involved in social causes,” she said. “Any school would be delighted to have had him as a student.”
Before coming to New Mexico, Sanchez had played with Club de Golf Pulgas Pandas, a club in the prosperous town of Aguacalientes in north-central Mexico.
Stone graduated from Nocona High School in 2021, where she played golf, volleyball and softball. Her mother, Chelsi Stone, described her as a ray of sunshine.
With many students away for spring break, the university was planning a rally next week, while counselors were ready to help students before then. Prayers and condolences continued to flood social media sites as separate fundraising efforts were underway by the university as well as friends to help the families of the victims.
On Thursday, around 150 people turned out to pay their respects to Zinn at the Texas Roadhouse, a Hobbs restaurant where he worked and met his girlfriend of five months.
“He was my heart,” said 20-year-old Maddy Russell of Hobbs.
Also at the memorial was Russell’s aunt, who had written down her niece’s phone number on a piece of paper for Zinn when Russell was too shy to do so. He texted her that day and quickly became a fixture at the family dinner table.
Many who knew Zinn wore Denver Broncos jerseys, including a colleague who began their friendship with a football rivalry; She’s a Cowboys fan.
“I was from Colorado, and I wasn’t a Bronco fan and he was,” waitress Kyleen Valdez, 31, said. “He came and told us when Russell Wilson was going to be on the team, they’re going to win again. They’re going to win the Super Bowl. And that’s how everyone knows Jackson – sports, not just football. golf.
Mourners released about 100 blue and orange balloons into the cold, whipping wind from eastern New Mexico, and they quickly disappeared over the horizon.