State Wrestling Champion
“Failure is a choice, winning is the challenge.”
story by Cindy Burbage photos by Shelia Scott
Effingham County High School senior, Zebrandon Gant was first introduced to wrestling four years ago. “My friend Austin (A.J.) King and I were jumping on his trampoline one day and he said ” Z, have you ever thought about wrestling, would you try out for the wrestling team?” I was going to basketball tryouts, but I changed my mind and went with A.J. instead,” the athlete shared.
His first year of wrestling proved he had natural ability. He went on to state as an alternate wrestler. The following seasons demonstrated he was growing as a competitor. “My 2nd year I placed 3rd in the state. Last year, I placed 2nd in the state. And this year I became the State Champion with a 57-0 record,” he humbly said.
But the 2017-2018 wrestling season was not about the championship; it was to honor a great friend. It was to express to the world what a footprint a comrade had made in Zebrandon’s life. “My friend A.J. was like a big brother to me. We did things together like playing basketball, riding bikes, playing football and fishing. Fishing, I have to say was our favorite. A.J. passed away in an accident on August 5, 2017. I wanted to do something that would honor him, so I went into the 2017-2018 wrestling season with the commitment to practice hard, work even harder- that was what A.J would have done. He was a hard worker. His legacy will live on in those whose life he touched while he was here. That was where the 57-0 record came in. He wasn’t the best wrestler, but he was the hardest working one. He had great work ethics”, he sadly articulated.
It seems that sports in general is “Z”’s niche; he also participates in the football as well. “On the football field, I play several different positions, which include running back, quarterback, linebacker and strong safety. I play where I am needed to get the job done,” the team player voiced.
The football field is not the only field Zebrandon plays on either. The Effingham Rebel is a starting striker for the school’s soccer team. “I was nominated and won at the high school level for the Wendy’s Highschool Heisman. I excel in those sports as well. Failure is a choice, winning is the challenge,” he modestly said. This award is not a simple win; with over 29,000 public and private school scouted for a Heisman winner, “Z” has proved to be that all around athlete and a role model for others.
Being a dedicated sportsman is more than a one-person feat. Zebrandon is a member of a big family who cheer for him. “I live with my parents, Ricky and Sandra Gant. I have two sisters Miah and Ariana, three brothers Lee, Marques and Jacquavious. I also have three nieces and one nephew. I have lots of support from my other family members and my church,” he proudly admitted.
After high school, the eighteen-year-old plans to attend college and eventually become a marriage counselor.
For Zebrandon Gant’s size, determination and just plain ole hard work has demonstrated to be a good recipe for success. “The other thing that I would like people to know about me is that I am a gentle giant. Most people are intimidated by my size but I would give the shirt off my back and help anyone who needed it. One word that has been used to describe me is humble, it is never about me alone. The best work is teamwork. I owe a special thanks and recognition to Coach Guggino, Coach Jordan, Bobby our athletic trainer, Isiaiah Royal, Alex Williams, Lee Johnson, and my teammates Zekeil Walls and Josh Wright,” the demure gentle giant closed.