Rock Steady: Zentner Receives SAAC Faculty Mentor Award
Nick Zentner was singled out in the award nomination for his work to be a mentor to student-athletes both inside and outside of the classroom.
Nick Zentner was singled out in the award nomination for his work to be a mentor to student-athletes both inside and outside of the classroom.

Friday, September 2, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – An ardent supporter of the balance between academics and athletics for 30 years, Central Washington University geology professor Nick Zentner is the recipient of the 2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Faculty Mentor Award.

A member of the Central Washington faculty since 1992, Zentner has mentored numerous Wildcats student-athletes over the years. He is also active as the faculty mentor for the Wildcats volleyball program. Faculty mentors are intended to promote an awareness and appreciation of the NCAA Division II philosophy that emphasizes participation in high-level athletic competition within a comprehensive program of learning and development.

“Nick’s mentorship is what makes him so amazing. He is a friend, mentor, professor and therapist all in one,” said CWU volleyball junior setter Sydney Remsberg, who wrote the nomination for Zentner on behalf of the Central Washington SAAC. “He goes above and beyond in everything that he does, including making each individual he meets feel special.”

The nomination emphasizes the care that Zentner takes in helping student-athletes develop balance between academics and athletics.

“He teaches important life skills, like time management, professional communication and how to approach difficult situations,” Remsberg said. “Nick is very good at helping me balance all of my student-athlete responsibilities and provides a safe place to go during my crazy schedule. He’s always someone that anyone on my team can use as an outlet when they need someone to talk to.”

In addition to teaching and working with the athletic department, Zentner is the host of “Nick on the Rocks,” a short-form educational series on Northwest geology produced by Seattle PBS affiliate KCTS. The show won two Northwest regional Emmy awards in 2021. Zentner also produces a geology podcast and posts numerous videos on geology that are posted his website,

In 2015, Zentner received the prestigious James Shea Award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. The award is presented to an individual for exceptional contributions in the form of writing and/or editing of Earth science materials that are of interest to the public and by teachers of Earth science.

Zentner received his bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986 and received his master’s degree from Idaho State in 1989. Prior to arriving at Central Washington, Zentner spent three years teaching geology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Presented annually by the GNAC SAAC, the Faculty Mentor Award honors faculty members at member institutions that demonstrate exemplary support to student-athletes both on and off the field of competition while representing the NCAA Division II core values of learning, passion, service, resourcefulness, sportsmanship and balance. Award recipients should have a strong commitment to preparing student-athletes to excel in their endeavors after their athletic careers have ended.

Past recipients of the GNAC SAAC Faculty Mentor Award include Laura Reid of Simon Fraser University, Amy Cooper of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kevin Bartlett of Seattle Pacific University, Emily Vela-Haynes of Western Oregon University, Scott Harris of Montana State University Billings, Dr. Peter Ruben of Simon Fraser University and Dr. T.H. “Butch” Kamena of Western Washington University.