Four years might not seem like very long to be a Patriots fan, but when you're only seven, it amounts to more than half your life.
That's the case for Zac Ventola, a football fanatic second-grader from Westwood, Mass. Zac watches every game during the season, comes to training camp in the summer, and even practices his addition tables using players' numbers (Tom Brady plus Julian Edelman equals Patrick Chung).
"Other kids are into planes and trains, and the thing he became obsessed with is football," explained his mom, Pia. "He wears Patriots clothes to school every single day."
Thanks to Zac's dedication to both the team and living a healthy, active lifestyle, he has been named a finalist in the nationwide Play 60 Super Kid competition. He's one of three children in the running for the grand prize, which includes a trip to the Super Bowl, the chance to bring out the official game ball and a $10,000 school grant.
"I've been such a big Patriots fan for such a long time," Zac said. "It would just be a life dream."
He's not kidding either.
Zac has eagerly studied everything to do with the team since the 2010 season, when he was just three years old. It was then that he first watched a game from start to finish, inspired by the fact that his big sister was in the crowd at the stadium. The Patriots lost that game, but luckily, Zac knew just what they needed.
"He got some paper, he sat down and he drew pictures on cards," Pia recalled. "After, had me write what he wanted to say – that he was sad they had lost and that he hoped they felt better."
They mailed the letters off to Gillette Stadium and a few months later, sure enough, a reply arrived for Zac along with some Patriots goodies. From that moment on, he was hooked. Nowadays, Zac watches every game on TV, and even when a late kickoff clashes with bedtime, he catches the action the following day. The rest of the time, he treats football like one of his school subjects, searching for informational videos on YouTube and checking out reading material from the local library.
"Every once in a while people will say stuff to us like, 'I've been a fan all my life and he's only seven,' but you know what, seven-year-olds have a lot of free time," Pia joked, explaining that Zac has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the current team.
As evidenced by his contest entry video, Zac is also a big-time collector, with a room full of gear signed by the players he's met – nearly everyone on the current roster.
"They have always been beyond kind to him," Pia emphasized. "And when someone's kind to you, it makes you love them even more."
Although Zac has enough Patriots memories to last most people a lifetime, he can't help but dream of the Super Bowl prize.
"I would be so happy," he said, a big smile taking over his face. "Bringing out the ball and all that, it would be an amazing experience."
And does he think the Patriots will be there too?
"I just don't want to jinx it," he said, turning serious. "They're looking really good, but I don't want to jinx it."
Spoken like a true fan, Zac.
Help Zac Ventola win this year's Play 60 Super Kid competition by casting your vote at superkid.nflrush.com/voting.