Athlete of the Week: Alex Zendejas

Brian Kimball

Editor’s Note: UA redshirt sophomore kicker Alex Zendejas won the Duel in the Desert with a 32-yard field goal as time expired. He scored all six of the Wildcats’ points during the fourth quarter of that game and for his efforts was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week by the league. The Arizona Daily Wildcat caught up with Zendejas to discuss that honor, what his coaches and teammates said to him before the game-winning try and if his game-winner might finally get some kickers a little bit of respect.

Daily Wildcat: What was your reaction when you found out you got the Special Teams Player of the Week?

Alex Zendejas: I actually found out right before practice, so I was kind of excited going into practice. I had a little smile.

DW: Was it a little bit sweeter because you got it for beating ASU?

AZ: Oh yeah. That was awesome. Because of that and because it was at ASU and it was kind of, I don’t want to say home game for me, but I had a lot of friends and a lot of family there, so it was awesome.

DW: Was it more gratifying to get that game-winning kick considering some of the struggles you’ve been having through during the season?

AZ: Yeah, it felt good to go out there and have the opportunity to kick it, and then it going through felt really good.

DW: Was that the best sports moment in you career, high school or college?

AZ: Definitely. High school, everything. A lot of good moments have come, and I’m fortunate that I’ve had a lot, but that was up there.

DW: I know former kicker Jason Bondzio didn’t have any game-winners. Have you exchanged any text messages with him or anything like that?

AZ: No, I haven’t heard from Bondzio. I don’t know if he’s a little jealous because I got the opportunity. I haven’t heard from him.

DW: You kickers don’t get much respect. They make you guys practice a lot at a different field than the rest of the team, so maybe will this get you kickers some more respect?

AZ: Uh, probably not. We’ll probably still just be on the sideline, but it’s fine. We’re used to it. It doesn’t bother us at all. We actually like it like that way sometimes.

DW: What did your coaches tell you before you went out there for the last kick?

AZ: Coach Hammer (special teams coach Jeff Hammerschmidt) told me before I went out there, he said, “”It’s going to be a great moment.”” That’s all he said and that’s pretty much all I heard.

DW: What about your teammates, what did they say to you?

AZ: They all left me alone.

DW: Like a perfect game in baseball kind of thing?

AZ: Yeah, it was something like that, unless they were talking to me and I didn’t hear them. I didn’t really hear anybody else besides coach Hammer. Actually, I talked to him at the beginning of the series but then as time went on I was right there with (long snapper) Jason (Bertoni) and (holder) Keenyn (Crier) and it was just us focusing on what we needed to do.

DW: What did your teammates say to you afterward?

AZ: Uh, anything that you could imagine. Good job, helluva job and all kinds of stuff.

DW: Are you extra gangster because you made that kick right when it started to rain and hail?

AZ: Uh, yeah. I think I’m hardcore now. (Laughs)

DW: You guys came back to Tucson on Saturday night, right?

AZ: Yeah.

DW: I bet you got a little bit of extra attention at the parties, huh?

AZ: Uh, well I wish there were more people here and they weren’t all gone because of Thanksgiving break and all back home. But yeah, I got a little bit more attention on Saturday night. It was fun. We’ll just leave it at that.

DW: What did you do with the game ball?

AZ: Right now it’s in my room on my mini refrigerator.

DW: (Laughs) Really, it’s on the mini-fridge and not framed or anything?

AZ: Yeah, I have to wait until I go back home though, to get it framed up. We’ve got a couple of things we’re going to do to it, like probably paint some of the ball and put “”game ball”” on there and put a little case around it.

DW: Everybody knows you’re the nephew of former UA kicker Max Zendejas, but what’s something that a lot of people don’t know about you?

AZ: Uh, (pauses) shit. Something they don’t know about me? (Long pause) Could we go tradition-wise?

DW: Yeah, sure man.

AZ: Well every Wednesday we have to go to Hooters.

DW: (Laughs) Hooters, really?

AZ: It’s Wingsday at Hooters every Wednesday. That’s where it’s at. Usually I get honey barbecue and maybe one order of mild. I try to switch it up a little bit.