The Peninsula High School community lost a beloved member over the weekend.
Zach Goddard, a 2015 graduate, died Saturday in the Gig Harbor area. He passed away after being brought to the hospital by a couple of friends, according to Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.
Alcohol played a factor in the death, Troyer said, and at this point it’s not considered a suspicious death. A detective has been assigned to the case.
Goddard’s cause of death has yet to be determined, according to Pierce County medical examiners.
Goddard was one of the area’s best football players and wrestlers during his time in high school. He was known for being humble, hard-working, genuine and caring to everyone around him.
“He was such a positive influence on everyone,” said former teammate Chance Stolz, who played football and wrestled with Goddard. “He always had a smile on his face and made the best out of every situation. (His death) was so unexpected. It takes a piece of you. He was my teammate and friend since peewee (football). It’s just crazy losing someone like that.”
Peninsula wrestling coach Mark Nickels was shocked to hear the news.
“It’s devastating,” Nickels said. “We were hoping they got a name wrong or something. It didn’t seem like something that would happen to him. You don’t expect that to happen to anyone, but especially someone so young, fit and strong. He had such a level head.”
Students, alumni and staff were mourning Goddard’s death on Twitter and social media over the weekend, as the news poured in Saturday evening.
“You can’t go on Twitter without seeing his picture,” Stolz said. “I don’t think anyone has ever been considered a best friend by so many people more than Zach was.”
Former Peninsula quarterback Robert Kvinsland said the Peninsula community is “shook” by the news.
“It’s the most difficult thing I’ve probably ever gone through,” Kvinsland said. “He was one of the most closest friends since kindergarten. He was one of those guys that everyone loved and nobody hated. He put a smile on anyone’s face. If he was going through hard times or good times, he always seemed happy. It was always important for him to have everyone around him be happy.”
As a wrestler, Nickels still uses Goddard as an example to his current athletes.
“His character — when you set goals, put up the effort — these things can happen for you,” Nickels said. “We often talk about Zach in those regards to our kids now. He’s left a strong memory in our program and will continue to do so. … He embodied the best of what we could hope to represent our school and our program.”
Goddard finished as high as second place in the state as a Class 3A wrestler, and was named to the 2014 The News Tribune’s All-Area football team as a defensive back for the Seahawks. He graded out as the team’s most productive tackler that season, with 81 tackles, including 10-1/2 tackles for loss.
“He gave it his all,” Kvinsland said. “Every snap, every play. He wasn’t necessarily a vocal leader, but everyone looked to him. He was always doing the right thing.”
A GoFundMe account, which had raised more than $8,000 as of Monday afternoon, has been set up in his honor. There will be a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening at Volunteer Park on the Key Peninsula from 6 to 9 p.m. This will be an outdoor event, so please take the necessary weather precautions.