Zach Tieke Leads Fenwick Friars With His Voice

For Zach Tieke, leadership is about being vocal and creating a sense of unity among all members of the Fenwick boys swimming team. 

A senior captain for the Friars, Tieke uses his role as one of the most experienced athletes on the team to get his teammates motivated in their training and preparation.

“He’s different from what I’ve seen as a captain in other sports,” said senior Danny Marquez, who has also plays baseball and soccer at Fenwick. “He’s very verbal, and he is always giving pointers — especially to younger members of the team.”

Tieke carries that leadership into competitions as well.

“I try to get them excited during dual meets before each swim,” Tieke said. “Because every point matters.”

In addition to advising teammates and consulting with coach Luke McGuire, Tieke works with fellow captains Michael Hall and Connor Fabian to get everyone to feel a sense of unity.

“We just make sure everyone on the team is involved,” Hall said.

For Tieke, that mind-set comes not only from being a senior and captain, but also from his experience when he was a younger member of the team. At every Fenwick home swim meet, the Friars let opponents go through their rituals and cheers. Then the home team begins its “Balthasar” tradition.

The Friars have a Christmas ornament of one of the three wise men that detaches its head from its body. One captain has the head in the locker room while the entire team gathers outside the storage closet with another captain holding the body. When the two pieces of Balthasar are united, the Fenwick team yells his name and “goes nuts,” as Marquez put it.

“It involves all the guys on the team,” Hall said. “There’s a lot of energy, and it brings us together.”

Tieke remembers how he felt on the day of his first home meet as a freshman — and his first Balthasar experience.

“It is definitely a culture thing,” Tieke said. “I remember being a freshman and it was crazy, but I was part of it.

“It was something I looked forward to doing as a senior, and I got to do it for the first dual meet. It all came full circle.”

Fenwick competes in the MCAC championship Friday at Fenwick (diving) and Saturday at Marmion (swimming) before hosting its own sectional on Feb. 22. 


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Published by Jakub Rudnik

Chicago-area sportswriter. DePaul journalism professor. VP of content and SEO at Shortlister. Founder of