Future Leaders: 'Failure Is Not an Option' for ZaQuan Irby

As the school year starts again, so too does Future Leaders. This month Barry Wygel headed to Sage College and Voorheesville Elementary School. 

TROY, N.Y. -- Mornings can be a little hectic, as any parent can attest. It's a time to get ready and prepare for the day and for ZaQuan Irby, there's a lot to plan for.

"Some people may say, 'how do you do it, or is it hard?'" he said. "Because if you don't have an option, if you have one option, then failure is not an option. You have to succeed, so that pushes me to be the best I can be to help my family."

Shortly after the birth of his son Marquel, ZaQuan made the decision to go back to school, he says he needed a career and not just a job, and little did he know at the time, there was going to be a career he was perfectly suited for.

"In order to coach, I needed a degree. So I went into physical education, and it turns out teaching is something that comes natural because I was already doing it without knowing it -- in the form of football," said Irby.

To say that ZaQuan impressed his professors and professionals he is student teaching with would be an understatement.

"He is so genuine. He came in the first time, even in the opening email to me was, I could feel the words he put in the email was genuine," said Dennis McCormick Jr., a Voorheesville physical education teacher.

However, what makes ZaQuan such an inspiration isn't just what he has accomplished in school, you need to look at his whole day. After getting his two young children ready for school, he student teaches the entire school day at Voorheesville Elementary School,  then leaves to coach Schenectady's modified football team. At 5:30 p.m. he leaves for his full-time job working at Rennselaer ARC, he gets home around 11 p.m. just in time to get enough sleep to do it all again the next day.

And if that wasn't enough, he spends at least a few hours a week volunteering to coach youth football in Albany.

"To tell you the truth, right now, not much for myself, but everything I do ultimately will place me in a position to where I'll be able to relax one day," said Irby.

"I'll think he'll be an outstanding teacher. I think he really understands what it takes to be an educator and it's not about him. Being here and teaching, it's about the students and making sure they become life long active movers," said Peter Stapleton, the SAGE Undergraduate Physical Education program director."

ZaQuan doesn't know what the future holds. He graduates from SAGE in December and says he is willing to do and go wherever he needs to be successful, but if coaching football is his chosen field, he won't have to look far for some devoted recruits.

"Raising some good football players? That's just by choice. They chose the football route," he said. "I'm going to support whatever they do. If they want to be the best gardener, I'm going to support it. If they want to be a doctor, I'll support it. If they want to be a teacher like myself, I'll support it," Irby said.

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