Huntington University stand-out point guard Zach Goodline moved from a Division 1 program to the NAIA in order to play the sport he loves.
By Mayah Schundelmier, Contributor
A silence comes over the crowd. Everyone watches as 55 drives to the basket. There are three defenders, all taller than him. Their hands up. He dribbles, shifting through them like a dance. Then he effortlessly lays the ball up into the basket.
Screams and chants come through the gym as everyone celebrates Zach Goodline making an almost impossible basket.
“That man is just a walking bucket!” yelled student Kortney Grimm, after seeing such a beautiful display of athleticism.
While walking around Huntington’s campus, you might see a guy with swag dripping off him and the word basketball written on his heart.
Zach Goodline is a junior here at Huntington University. He transferred from Oakland University, a D1 college in Michigan, after playing basketball there for a year.
The transition was far from easy.
“My life just completely flipped upside down,” Goodline said. “It just hit me, and I was about to start breaking down. I had tears coming out my eyes the first day I arrived at Huntington.”
Every aspiring athlete has goals they set out to achieve as they start the journey of playing a new sport. They want to be able to play the sport they love and compete at the highest level possible.
Goodline had his own set of aspirations as he fell in love with the game of basketball. After playing football and basketball all four years of high school, he decided that basketball was the sport he would stick with and continue to play.
“I liked it cause I was better than people, and I could steal the ball from them and score so then I just stayed with it,” said Goodline, describing how he first started playing basketball.
Goodline’s parents are both “huge sportspeople.” Both parents played basketball in high school and brought him up to love the sport as well. Because of this, Goodline was always in the gym.
Every athlete knows that putting in the work is what will take you far. You must constantly work on your craft and never take a day off. Even a non-talented person with the right work ethic can become great.
Great athletes and leaders aren’t born, they’re made. Goodline explained how during his high school basketball season his team wasn’t “player lead” but he played on a team full of hard workers with a “great motivator” for a coach.
Despite claiming a lack of talent at first, Goodline’s hard work became a great skill. During his senior year of high school, he passed Magic Johnson, a legendary NBA all-star athlete, on the Michigan career free-throws-made list. Shortly after he passed Magic Johnson, he received a personal congratulations from the man himself on Twitter.
This was a huge encouragement to Goodline as he was about to start his journey to play college basketball.
He originally committed to play basketball here at Huntington University to play under Ty Platt. He then decomitted from HU, however, and recommitted to Oakland University, a Division 1 college in Michigan.
Goodline’s first year at Oakland was full of amazing experiences. He and his team traveled to Mykonos, Greece, to play basketball for some time. His teammates quickly became some of his best friends, and he even started a couple games as a freshman walk-on.
Playing Division 1 basketball in college was a dream. One piece of his dream was still missing—playing time.
Despite Goodline’s love for his teammates and the experiences he had at Oakland, he was not satisfied with the playing time he received. He wanted to do more.
Goodline first discussed the possibility of transferring with his family. They were all on board seeing that he would be able to do more at whatever university he chooses to attend.
Goodline says he values his family over everything. He’s “a big family guy,” and it shows.
One of his best friends and biggest supporters was his grandpa. His grandpa would be there to cheer him on during all of his games and after games, they would sit in his kitchen and talk.
Goodline grew up spending most of his time at his grandparents’ house. It was like his home away from home. He would do anything for them.
It packed a punch after his grandfather died, on February 14, 2021.
“My grandpa was my guy, my best friend,” Goodline said. “So, like, it sucked bad last year when he passed away.”
Despite this loss, Goodline felt at peace knowing that his grandfather was no longer in pain and in a better place.
After discussing with his family, Goodline decided to transfer out of Oakland and look into playing at a different university, Goodline had a chat with head coach Gregg Kampe. The coach was sad to see him leave but knew that Goodline was making the right decision.
“He epitomized what I like in people,” Coach Kampe said during a phone interview. “He worked really hard, he wanted to be good, and he was coachable. He checked all the boxes on things that we talked about.”
Since Goodline was looking to transfer, he got back in contact with Coach Mark Green to find out who the current Huntington University head coach is.
Kory Alford, son of Steve Alford, former professional basketball player and a coach at University of Nevada, was the head coach at Huntington University. Goodline knew that this would be a great opportunity to come back to the school he originally committed to and play for a coach with former Division 1 coaching experience.
“Zach was a major priority,” Kory Alford said. “We had countless phone calls and from the time I’ve gotten to know Zach, he is just a basketball nerd and for me that’s perfect.”
Alford recognized Goodline’s competitive spirit as well as his passion for the game and knew he would be a great leader on the team he was looking to build.
Zach was ready to play for Huntington because he knew that Alford had “the utmost confidence” in him and that he would be free to play the game he loves in the way he knew how.
Despite this move being a hard thing at first, it allowed for a pretty special opportunity. It allowed for brothers to be reunited on the court.
Goodline and his younger brother Drew both played at Coloma High School in Coloma, Michigan. The time they got to play together was short, and they were looking to ball out together again.
Drew Goodline was excited when he found out Zach was recommitting to Huntington because he knew that there was a chance they could play together again.
“I’ve always looked up to him,” Drew said in an interview. “Anything he did I wanted to do.”
Growing up, both Drew and Zach Goodline agreed the competitiveness in their household was huge. Both love to compete and, even more so, to win. Even though sometimes a loss might result in a quick fight, at the end of the day they are still brothers and no fight could change that.
“Yeah we were competitive,” the younger brother said. “But we did not hate each other at all you know? We’re best friends. No matter what, we were sticking with each other.”
But Zach would have to spend his first year at Huntington alone before having his brother join him.
Goodline would first have to win over the trust of a whole new group of guys and show them that he was a leader worth following. One guy—Caleb Middlesworth— was not super happy at first to see that happen.
Middlesworth and Goodline had a rough time warming up to each other. Middlesworth, who would have been a junior at the time, was also working to lead their team. But after living in an apartment together the entire first year, they began to get closer.
“We kind of butted heads at the beginning because we both got big personalities on the court,” Middlesworth said. “We’re both kind of ball dominant, so after we roomed together my whole junior year—I mean, he’s one of my best friends. Been my best friend ever since.”
Once their connection began to grow, Goodline hit the ground running and began to make a name for himself at Huntington. He also began to positively impact his teammates and coaches in a short time.
Goodline’s confidence grew as well as his skill. He was always crafting his work so that it would translate on the court.
Goodline’s work ethic was contagious, and he began to inspire his teammates at HU to do the same.
“As a player, he definitely makes me want to work harder,” Hank Pulver, one of Goodline’s teammates, said. “Just because I see what he’s doing and I want to be like that as well, so I would definitely say he’s pushing me to be better.”
Goodline’s hunger to win and to play the hardest possible has allowed him to become a better leader. He understands what it takes to win. You need to push and encourage your teammates.
Whenever found in a funk, Goodline looks to take the negative energy that he’s feeling and give good energy to his teammates. He never loses confidence in his team.
“Even though Zach had great games, he was proud of us,” Ben Humrichous, one of Goodline’s teammates said. “I feel like our team was at its best because Zach felt the best in us. He made us feel the best about ourselves.”
While Goodline is a huge encouragement to his team, he also is not afraid to get in your face and push you to get better.
“On the court, he’s one type of dude, crazy competitive and may seem harsh,” Jackson Paul, one of Goodline’s teammates, said. “Off the court he’s funny, always smiling, trying to have a good time.”
Goodline’s teammates are in awe of his skill. Their fearless leader has repeatedly taken on some of the biggest names in the Crossroads League.
“He has that dawg mentality,” Lane Sparks, one of Goodline’s teammates, said. “I mean, he’s a one-of-a-kind player. That’s not a player that just comes around every once in a while. He’s great.”
His work ethic and love for the game is what made him what he is today. Yes, he starts every game now and can drain a three-pointer in the face of a 7-footer. But that was not always the case.
“I used to be the last guy on the roster,” Goodline said. “I don’t think (his teammates) realize that. And I don’t think they ever will. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum.”
The statistical comparison from his time at Oakland University to his most recent year at Huntington University is like night and day.
“You know, if it was my son, I think I would rather have him in a position where he can reach his goals of playing all the time and becoming a star player,” Gregg Kampe, Oakland’s head coach said. “I think he made a very smart decision and he has turned into that star we knew he could be.”