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Heroes Among Us: Centre College football player is a 'double hero'

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Apr 18, 2023

DANVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Zack Mason explains the motto for the Centre College football team is a simple one.

“Our saying is ‘pursuing excellence with a vengeance,'" says Mason. “And that’s not just on the football field; it’s everything we do.”

For four years, Mason has been a big man on the Danville, Kentucky campus as a 290-pound offensive lineman for the Colonels. But he’s been almost larger than life since he, fellow senior Cole Littleton, and some other friends turned heroes on spring break in Gulf Shores, Alabama, saving two teenage girls who were in distress in some turbulent water.

“When we saw that they were drowning, we just took off. My whole time, all I could think of is ‘I gotta get there,'" recalls Mason. “It probably took us a minute, minute and a half, but it felt like five seconds. Once we got there and got ahold of them, you know, got to where we could stand and a little more stable, that’s when it hit me that — this was a pretty serious situation.”

I had to ask him – what does a superhero do after the deed is done?

“Well, first thing I did was I got a drink," Mason laughed. “My adrenaline exploded, so yeah, that’s what I did!”

“Obviously, when you hear something like this, you’re thrilled that someone’s life was saved,” says Centre College football coach, Andy Frye. “Then you find out who it is and you kind of think through — ’well, OK. Am I surprised?’ Well, you’re always surprised. But then again, as you’re aware of, this is his second time that he’s saved a life.”

Last September, the future physical therapist was in the right place at the right time while having lunch with his team in Nashville.

“This girl came up to us. It was kinda weird, because she wasn’t saying anything and we were like ‘are you OK?’ and she shook her head no and then she grabbed her throat. And so I was like ‘are you choking?’ and she nodded her head yes. So then I did the Heimlich on her and actually got it out on the first try.”

Zack jumped into action then, having once seen his father perform the Heimlich Maneuver on his mother when she was choking years earlier. Two lives saved, two complete strangers whose names he never learned, in two places far away from his Crestwood, Kentucky home.

“I think it ultimately comes down to football, especially being an offensive lineman. Like I’ve always put other people before myself and provide what’s good for the team and, in this example, it’s society”, Mason concludes. “I’ve really just been in the right place at the right time twice now.”