In some ways, it was always destined that Zach Dedrick would end up at Notre Dame.
His father went there for university, and his older brothers, Sean and Kyle, have both played for the Fighting Irish under recently-retired coach Bobby Clark. In Dedrick’s room, he even has a sign that reads “Play Like A Champion Today,” their famed football slogan.
At times, the Wilton, Conn., native felt his life had too much navy and gold, that he’d want to chart his own path in college. But when push came to shove, Dedrick verbally committed to Notre Dame in mid July.
“In the end, I realized it’s the place I want to go,” Dedrick said when reached by phone.
However, Dedrick, a center back and captain for Beachside’s U-19 team in the Development Academy, wasn’t short of options during the recruiting process. He turned aside interest from NESAC programs, including Amherst, and some Ivy League ones in Princeton and Yale.
At one point, Dedrick was even seriously considering Dartmouth. He developed a rapport with Chad Riley, who coached the Big Green to four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths from 2014-2017.
But that option fell through – at least briefly – when Riley left Dartmouth in January. His landing spot? None other than Notre Dame to replace Clark after his 17 seasons in charge of the Fighting Irish.
Dedrick will now be part of Riley’s first class that he fully recruits to Notre Dame.
“It’s really special to be the first class for him,” Dedrick said. “I’m sure he’ll create a pretty awesome program and build upon their tradition of success.”
Dedrick’s commitment continues a recent line of Beachside-to-Notre Dame commits, including his older brothers. Another prominent one is Jon Gallagher, who’s under contract with Atlanta United of Major League Soccer and recorded 39 goals and 15 assists throughout his career in South Bend, Ind.
The youngest of three, Dedrick is now the next in line, but first he’s set on ending his career with Beachside career on a high. He’s one of their U-19 team’s three early D1 commits, alongside Elon-bound goalkeeper Cam Pelle (Fairfield, Conn.) and Princeton-bound striker Ryan Winkler (Monroe, Conn.).
Other key pieces for Beachside include forward Franz Muhaj (Bridgeport, Conn.) and attacking midfielder Sergio Silva (Bethel, Conn.).
“The second half of this past year we turned it around a lot, and Paul’s a big part of that,” Dedrick said. “We all have Snapchat and message groups, so you can see everyone putting in the work for what’s hopefully a good season.”