Football Q&A With Holt Zalneraitis

Holt Zalneraitis

Holt Zalneraitis

Oct. 1, 2013

Why did you choose to come to West Point?
Many factors led to my decision. My grandfather's stories of his Army Air Corps days made an enormous impact on me when I was younger, and I was proud to have the opportunity to attend West Point and ultimately serve our nation as he had. I also recognized that West Point offered extraordinary opportunities that were not available elsewhere. Also, being able to play football at a place like this was an option I could not turn down. I would have regretted any other decision.

What does it mean to be an Army football player?
Being an Army football player is about representing something far bigger than any of us as individuals. Not only do we represent West Point, but we also represent the U.S. Army - the number one fighting force in the world. Almost every soldier I've spoken with has a story about watching Army football while deployed overseas. We take pride in our close-knit brotherhood, but we also understand that we are connected to all of those who are serving, or have served, our nation.

Describe your fondest memory of Army football.
That would have to be my freshmen year when we beat Kent State. In the locker room, Coach Ellerson finished his post-game speech with, "... and we're going bowlin'," and everyone went nuts. It was awesome to see so much hard work, pride, and dedication come to fruition, especially amongst the seniors.

What branch do you want to enter after graduation and why?
I plan to branch Medical Corps. Even before West Point, I knew I wanted a career in medicine. Serving those who serve, and their families, will be extremely rewarding.

What is the most important lesson you have learned while at West Point?
Balancing priorities is the most important lesson I have learned while at West Point. It's impossible to accomplish everything asked or required and make all parties happy. Time is a precious commodity. This is true whether in a leadership role, or simply choosing which tasks to tackle next. I've learned to pick out what's most important and focus my attention on those things.

What do you like to do in what little down time you have?
In my down time, I like to play guitar, watch television and movies, or grab a bite to eat with friends.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself on the first day of your plebe year?
I would tell myself that even though it's exciting to think about the future and graduation, it's also important to enjoy the present. I feel as though too much of my time at West Point was spent worrying about "what's next" rather than appreciating each day.

You've been very successful in the classroom at West Point. What's been the most important thing that has helped you do so well in school?
I would have to say the support of my classmates and other aspiring doctors has been the key to my success. The group of cadets hoping to go to medical school, including teammate Daniel Whitaker, is very supportive. We've been helping each other study and stay motivated since day one.

What did you learn from the 2011 season when you were forced to play on the interior of the line despite getting outweighed by a large margin every week? How has that experience helped you now that you are in your more natural position?
The biggest thing I learned was the way that large players move. Even though I was outweighed, I learned that I could use my speed to get them off balance and fulfill my assignment. Now that I play Quick (one of Army's outside linebacker positions), I feel that this knowledge is still applicable in the trenches on certain plays. I also learned the benefit of staying low to get leverage, and I now use this knowledge on every snap.

You lived in several places growing up. How did moving around so much affect who you've become today?
Moving around helped me learn to adjust to new environments and meet new people. I feel it has also allowed me to be open to diversity and accepting of new ideas.

Knight Vision


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