The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

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The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

Three-on-Three for Z returns after three years

Tournament for alum is ‘expression of love,’ his father said

Former and current professional basketball players, and the school’s students, faculty, and families flooded the Nicholas Athletic Center on Sunday, April 30, to participate in a three-on-three basketball tournament, raising funds for Zach McLeod ’08, an alum who suffered a brain injury while playing in a football scrimmage in 2008.

The following Monday, Boys Varsity Football Coach Mike Willey, who organized the event, expressed his gratitude for the large turnout in an email to the Upper School (US).

“The 3 on 3 tourney yesterday was awesome!!! So many people came out to support Zach and his family! This is what the BB&N community is all about. Thank you for supporting one of our knights!”

Class president his junior year, a “banner student”—a distinction given to students who display honor, scholarship, and kindness—as an eighth grader, and “one of the kindest kids I’ve ever met,” said Coach Willey, Zach was rendered disabled after collapsing on the field during a scrimmage against Wayland High School in the fall of 2008.

To raise funds for Zach and his family, the school hosted the first of what have now been 14 basketball tournament fundraisers in the spring of 2009. The tournament raises funds for Zach and his family through registration fees for players, raffles, and additional anonymous donations. Held annually until 2020, when it was canceled because of the pandemic, the event returned this year.

The tournament this year featured four divisions of players; one comprised of over-seas, former professional, and college basketball players, a second division made up of current and former high school players, a third consisting of inexperienced players, and a division for kids.

Coach Willey, who was the Boys Varsity Assistant Coach in 2008 when Zach was a junior on the football team and has known him since then, greatly admires him, he said. “He’s just one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met,” he said. “He just has a great heart. He’s always positive.

He’s just really exceptional and great. I think I get a lot more out of my relationship with Zach than maybe Zach gets from me because he’s just an inspiration to me on how he is as a person. I feel like I’m a better person because I know Zach.”

The tournament is important because it demonstrates the strength of the school’s community, Coach Willey said.

“It’s important for our community to really understand that we have someone’s back and we are going to help them out if they need it,” he said.

Coach Willey noticed that students and alums of all ages continually attend the tournament to support Zach, he said.

“There’s a good contingent of kids that are currently in the school at the tournament,” he said. “But there was also a great contingent of kids that are alumni, and now—they’re not kids anymore— men and women that are coming back to support Zach.”

Coach Willey hopes that the tournament will assume the important role it has played in the school community in the past, he said.

“Going forward, hopefully getting it back on track this year, and then next year, hopefully, it gets even bigger,” he said.

Emma Maginn ’23, a longtime friend of the McLeod family, attended the tournament to see Zach, she said.

“Zach has always been the sweetest person in any room. He’s such a light in people’s lives so I just wanted to go and support the family,” she said. “My most memorable moment was seeing Zach when he first came in. He is always so happy to see everyone and gave me a big hug and picked me up.”

She was touched to see so many people from school at the event, she said.

“It was such a beautiful moment bringing people of all ages, 8 to 50, together to support a beautiful and loving family,” she said. “It also brought back a lot of alumni and it was fun to see the BB&N family.”

Pat and Tammy McLeod, Zach’s parents, feel the school has shown them great support, they said.

“For the past 15 years, the BB&N family has surrounded us and carried us through the most difficult challenge of our lives,” Mr. McLeod said.

He said the tournament demonstrates Zach’s enduring relationship with the school community.

“We were informed that within a year of his traumatic brain injury we should expect Zach to lose all of his friendships,” Mr. McLeod said. “It’s been 15 years and Zach’s BB&N teammates, classmates, teachers, coaches, administrators, and parents continue to press into his life and ours. This tournament is one of those expressions of love, care, support, and friendship for Zach and our family.”

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Kate Rice
Kate Rice, Editorials Editor
I’m Kate, the Editorials Editor. When I’m not writing editorials, you can usually find me hanging out with friends, rowing, playing with my dog, or baking.

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