Montana Western remembers Utahn

Published August 12, 2009 5:31 pm
Death » Brighton star played for Utah before walking on for Western.
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Frank Marold believes the legacy of his son Zac should be more than that of one tragic act of suicide.

So, on Sept. 5, at halftime of the home-opening game of the Montana Western football season, the first Zac Marold Memorial Scholarship will awarded to deserving student athletes, with an emphasis on student and community involvement.

"Oftentimes people choose to create a legacy of some sort for loved ones who have passed away," said Amberly Pahut, executive director of the Montana Western Foundation. "The family chooses to honor them, to create something to keep their memory alive."

For a university with 1,100 students, and sports teams that can only dream of first-class facilities and travel like Utah, scholarships of $1,000 and $500 are priceless.

"It means a ton," Pahut said. "We are a small school and the majority of students have a high financial need."

Zac Marold was a standout linebacker at Brighton High. He was part of Utah's 2004 Fiesta Bowl championship, but was forced off the team by poor grades. By all accounts, however, after walking on at Montana Western, Marold finally "got it," realizing that there was more to life than football. Marold's grades improved and, though an injury forced a premature conclusion to his career, he was moving forward.

UMW head coach Rick Ferris thought enough of Marold to offer a student coaching position.

"I think he had other plans about what he wanted to do," Ferris said.

"This would have been a good introduction into what he wanted."

The coaching staff thought enough of Marold not to give his No. 51 to a player this year.

"We were going to give it to someone with [Marold's] qualities," Ferris said.

In the end, no one could have guessed the depth of Marold's emotions concerning the end of his playing career, as well as brewing trouble with a girlfriend. Frank Marold knew his son had been upset.

"He got pushed over the edge," Frank Marold said.

At 8 p.m. on Feb. 25, during a night of poker and beers at a friend's place, Marold hanged himself.

Ferris heard the news second hand, but knew in his gut that it was true. Ironically, the news came the night when Montana Western's basketball team was at Butte, taking on Montana Tech, the opponent for the Sept. 5 memorial game.

"Everyone was very aware," Pahut said. "[Students] showed up with black shirts with 'Marold' on the back. It hit a small campus hard."

Recently, the UMW campus was rocked once more with the news that Michael Guelff, a senior on the 2008 team, was killed in a car accident. Marold wants Guelff's name included on the scholarship.

"I'm very proud of my son," Marold said. "To this day I can't understand why Zac did what he did. Things are never that bad. Nothing is as bad as that, ever."

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