Zack Lystedt named homecoming king


by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

Posted on October 29, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 5 at 12:49 PM

COVINGTON, Wash. -- He was overwhelmingly voted homecoming king this week for his efforts to protect kids in Washington state from devastating sports injuries. On Friday, Zack Lystedt showed the crowd just how far he's come back.

"I feel honored," said Zack, 17, who is now a senior at Tahoma High School.

"I don't know exactly how much, but it was by... a landslide," said fellow senior Nyah Dorgan, Zack's best friend.

Joked his father Victor Lystedt: "It's kind of humbling knowing that I have to bow down when I walk into my own house, because my kid tells me that I have to kneel before the king."

Zack and his family attended Friday's game pitting Tahoma against Mount Rainier High School. Zack has only been to a handful of games since his injury four years ago. 

"We know in the back of our minds that Zach would definitely have been one of the star players of  this football team," said his father.

While physical therapy is helping him regain some movement in his extremities, Zack remains mostly wheelchair-bound because he suffered a concussion in a junior high football game when he was 13. He was nevertheless put back in the game, and later fell into a coma.

Victor said his son's come a long way, from "not being able to talk for the first 9 months, not being able to move for the first 13 months. Now we're on year four."

And in those four years, he's fought to regain his body, all while fighting to pass laws protecting other student athletes.

"I do feel like I really want to be out  there, but I'm not, and I'm not dwelling that I'm not," said Zack.

Zack's Law successfully passed the State Legislature and is now in effect. Because of Zack, both Washington and Oregon now require doctor's approval before allowing a player with a head injury back into the game.

Other states are looking at passing similar laws, thanks to the Lystedts, who are also encouraging Congress to establish nationwide standards on concussion injuries..

"He's made a law to help other people, to make sure nobody has to go through what he's gone through," said Nyah.

And for that, he was crowned homecoming king, one who's shown time and again, he won't taking any of this sitting down.

Quite literally, in the case of Friday night's halftime show, where a float carrying the homecoming court circled the track.

When it reached the 50-yard line in front of the bleachers, Zack's name was called over the loudspeaker.

He stood up.

And as loud as the fireworks show that proceeded the ceremony, the crowd exploded in applause, joining Zack in a standing ovation.

"It feels great," he said.