MANHATTAN, Kan. — Imagine you’re coming home from a taxing day of work. You spent so much time at the office that it’s well past midnight on a Saturday morning and your car is the only one on the road.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
What do you do next?
Go to sleep? Eat a snack? Unwind in front of the TV?
Those are the most predictable options, but for Junction City football coach Randall Zimmerman the answer is often to gather up his family and keep driving until they cross state lines. It’s a routine he started nearly four years ago and will continue Friday after Junction City takes on Shawnee Heights and his game evaluations are complete.
The destination: Austin, Texas. He plans to hit the road with his wife and two youngest children before the sun comes up on Saturday and admits he may not sleep until he returns home. In between, he will watch his son, Ty Zimmerman, take the field with Kansas State for its first road game of the season against the Texas Longhorns.
It’s a daunting trip for a man who has to have a strategy prepared for Junction City’s fourth game in time for his weekly coaches meeting on Sunday. But he embraces it. Whatever it takes to support his son, whom he has watched blossom into an elite free safety as a K-State senior.
“There has never been any consideration not to go watch his games,” Randall Zimmerman said. “It’s a balancing act, and it’s difficult, but we are used to it. We have other kids, and we always find a way to go to their activities, as well. We are going to go support our kids no matter what.”
Ty Zimmerman is thankful for that support. One of the things he enjoys most about playing on the road is finding his family in the crowd. Knowing family is there gives him confidence.
He always tries to find them after games, particularly after victories.
“I feel tremendously blessed to have the family support that I do,” Ty Zimmerman said. “I wouldn’t be here without them. We have tons of guys on the team from around the country who don’t have a chance to go home during their breaks. Being so close, having my family at the home games and parents at the road games is very uplifting.”
Randall Zimmerman has been inside every Big 12 stadium and attended two major bowl games.
“It is kind of like a vacation for my family,” Ty Zimmerman said. “They get to go on the road and see all these stadiums they wouldn’t have seen without me playing. I think they enjoy it. I know it’s something I will always enjoy talking about. My freshman year at the Pinstripe Bowl, they drove up and I ended up driving back with them. We saw all kinds of stuff and made it into a family vacation.”
But Randall Zimmerman has to spend nearly every minute he isn’t behind the wheel in front of his iPad, breaking down video for his team’s next game. Rarely can he relax.
“Watching the whole process and seeing how much Ty and Kansas State have developed over the last four years,” Randall Zimmerman said, “it’s just been so much fun.”