I’m not sure how the Bearded Ninja title came about…probably from the coach himself. But for those who work with him, it a term of endearment – and fame! “Bearded Ninja Style” is a common phrase around YES! Lee’s Summit. Every once in awhile, we can talk him into a famous, one armed “ninja style cartwheel.” He saves it as a reward for those youth who work particularly hard or who may have a hard time getting motivated when they first come to YES! I can’t really say it’s a thing of beauty — but it IS entertaining! And the kids have bought into it one hundred percent. On one occasion, a young man brought his dad to our “coach’s corner” and asked, “Can I show my dad the picture of Coach Zach weightlifting?” Next, I heard him explain to his dad, “He’s a ninja, you know.” Not everyone is so easily convinced. One of our very wise 6 year old girls looked at him one day and quietly but matter of fact said, “You’re not a ninja. You’re just a man.” For a short time, the “Bearded Ninja” was just a “Ninja,” as we had a day to celebrate cutting off his beard! Youth from each class had a “plank off” to see who could plank the longest. The winners got the chance to choose his or her section of that face and start trimming — It was painful for the Zach…most youth haven’t had much experience with electric clippers…but he smiled throughout the whole things! Stealth is one of his greatest assets — he can sneak up on people silently, and at over 6 feet, become an intimidating force. But we’ve also seen him do an unplanned “ninja style” somersault when an errant wasp wandered into the gym and got a little too close one day! We recently had a Halloween fundraiser at YES! Can you guess what the most popular costume was? Of course, it was the Ninja! I’m not sure even the Coach Zach knows the impact he’s making on young people’s lives. His encouragement and humor affect each person who walks in the door….the moment he sees one of his clients, his voice booms across the gym to welcome them and he runs across the turf to get the first high five of many to come. What makes YES! different? Well, for one, a bearded Ninja!