After talking with Mark Zimmer (‘08) for just a few minutes, it is easy to see the impact Notre Dame had on his life. If one couldn’t tell he bled the Bulldog colors through and through, he would definitely let you know where his pride lies.
It is Zimmer’s dedication to his alma mater, his love of being a Bulldog and his stellar success on the field and track that earn him a spot in Notre Dame’s Athletic Hall of Fame for the Class of 2022.
“It’s an honor to have worn Notre Dame blue and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Mark said. “I dedicated a large chunk of my life to sports and was blessed to be a part of some fantastic teams. Notre Dame sports gave me an avenue to live my passion and to experience it with friends. I still keep in touch with teammates today.”
Mark said the honor isn’t only special to him but his family as well.
“Between both of my parents, James and Lori Zimmer, at least one of them came to all of my games and meets,” he said. “My sister, Margaret, would drive me to practice and school. I remember my brother, Michael, even bringing his fraternity brothers to watch me play a soccer game in St. Louis. He was the biggest sports fan I’ve ever known, and I know he’s proud.”
It was truly a family affair for Mark, moving through the halls of Notre Dame, darting on the soccer field and dashing on the track.
But he said it was two other people who helped him with his athletic ability, though they thrived in sports Mark isn’t exactly known for.
“I credit my grandpas for what athleticism I inherited,” he said. “My Grandpa Morgan played minor league baseball and coached football for years. My Grandpa Zimmer loved baseball and was very proud of all things Notre Dame.”
When asked what he remembers most about Notre Dame, it is those who led him that come to mind.
Bill Davis. Steve Meadows. Matt Vollink. Brad Wittenborn. Jeff Worley.
It’s these five men who Mark credits most for his athletic accomplishments as a Bulldog.
“I remember Coach Davis and Meadows challenging me to do more, to aim higher with my goals,” he said. “I remember one year after a surgery, I said I just want to get to state and I’d be happy. They said ‘It’s not enough just to get to state. You need to expect more.’”
Mark said it was because of Davis and Meadows that he knew he wasn’t done with track after he graduated, leading him to the decision to pursue an athletic career in college.
He knew it was because of the moments he had at Notre Dame.
“Even as I get older, I still have vivid memories of my time at Notre Dame,” he said. “I remember sweating like crazy during soccer two-a-days in August. I remember making it to track state as a freshman and hearing the roar of the crowd on the final homestretch, then trying to rush off the track to throw up out of sight. I remember holding up our state trophy for soccer. I remember going to Mizzou track camp with my 4×400 team and getting yelled at by an Olympian for focusing on winning a race instead of proper fundamentals. Certain events you never forget.”
Mark said he remembers blowing his knee out in soccer and telling the doctor he had to be ready for track in three months.
“Sports taught me humility. Some days you give your all and it’s not enough to win. In that case you have to ask yourself, can I improve? If so, how do I get better? You learn to appreciate the journey along the way as much as the results,” he said. “Being an athlete at Notre Dame taught me the value of leadership and accountability. Truthfully, I loved soccer, but I never felt like the true leader on the team. In order to guide a team, you have to have passion. You have to possess a certain level of confidence, and you must be able to own and admit your mistakes. I felt that with track.”
Mark is now managing Zimmer Marketing in Joplin. He said he’s lucky to work in an industry he is passionate about and even more fortunate to lead a team of great people.