11/01/2012 - By Gayle M. Irwin
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Six-foot-five-inches tall, Austin Zimmerman could be a basketball player. And, although he enjoys the sport for fun, soccer and swimming are his choices when it comes to competition.
Austin plays soccer for Kelly Walsh High School during the spring, and participates in a youth league called the Wyoming 307 in the fall. This month the young man will join other 15 to 18-year-olds from around the state in a tournament to be held in Kansas City. Traveling for such tournaments has been part of Austin's life for nearly three years.
"We go to Minnesota every year," he says.
The competition is significant. Nearly 900 teams from around the world (representing 13 countries) gather. Last year Austin's team took second place in their division.
The 17-year-old has been involved with Wyoming 307 and with the KWHS team for three years. He plays center defense.
"I'm better at it [that position]," he says with confidence.
His Kelly Walsh team took state last year. It was the first time Austin had been part of a state-winning soccer team.
"We have a pretty good coach," he says.
Although his other competitive sport of choice is an individual sport (swimming), Austin says he enjoys it for the competition as well.
"It gets me active and I like to win," he says.
He participates in the 50 and 100 freestyle races and has been doing so for two years.
This athletic young man is also an avid hunter, as is his family. Austin and his older brother Collin have enjoyed opportunities to travel the world on hunting and fishing expeditions. For example, near Austin's 11th birthday, he was in Africa with his grandfather and shot a black wildebeest.
"I was able to get it on my 11th birthday," he recalls.
He's also traveled to New Zealand and hunted red stag. The country impressed him greatly.
"New Zealand is the prettiest place ever!" he exclaims.
Austin has participated in Alaskan fishing trips as well; his greatest enjoyment was fly-fishing for grayling.
"They're fun to catch. I like to fly fish, and grayling are fun to catch on a fly rod," he says.
This fall, Austin killed his first whitetail deer with a bow. He shot a 5x5 buck at a distance of 62 yards. The animal scored 135 via Boone and Crockett.
"I was pretty excited!" he remembers.
Although he didn't get an elk with his bow, Austin said he and his family "hunted every weekend" looking for that opportunity.
Perseverance is part of the young man's character. After a propane accident last spring burned a good portion of his legs, Austin's time of playing soccer was questionable. His treatment and recovery took place in Colorado, yet after several weeks of therapy there and in Casper, coupled with countless prayers from friends and family, the young man was able to play before the season ended and help his team advance to the championships.
"We still won state!" Austin says. "Prayer is what healed me."
Faith is a large part of Austin's life. He and his family experience God in nature and the young man gives thanks for the opportunity to observe God's handiwork in His creation and to cultivate from the land. The family owns property outside of town and daily witnesses the beauty of the landscape and the creatures residing there. Austin enjoys riding his horse through the property and other Wyoming areas. He also spends time with 5-year-old Lab/St. Bernard dog, Daisy.
"She loves to ride in the truck! She never misses an opportunity to do that," he said of his four-footed friend.
He attends Highland Park Church with his family and has helped with events at Youth for Christ.
"I help whoever needs it," he says.
As the family prepares for Thanksgiving, Austin is in hopes of helping by having a wild turkey dinner that he personally brings home. He would like to get one with his bow, another feat he has yet to do, providing yet another opportunity to grow in confidence, yet also remember from Whom the bounty – and blessings – come.