Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

High school football in Pasco part of spiritual journey

DADE CITY — Go to any Pasco High game during football season, and you're likely to see Ken Zifer running along the sidelines, trying to get the best shot.

A retired phone company worker who played running back for the Pirates back in the 1960s, Zifer began snapping pictures at the games as part of a spiritual outreach of sorts. Less visible is his pregame ritual: He quietly anoints the goalposts with oil from Israel and prays with the players who wish to be blessed.

"It makes those kids reach another level," said Zifer, 62.

Debbie Allen proudly displays Zifer's picture of her son Brennan, the kicker for Pasco High, on her desk at the San Antonio Credit Union. She said Zifer shows his faith by giving to others: Before the homecoming game, for example, he took pictures of all the seniors and their parents.

"He never charges anything. He does this out of the kindness of his heart," Allen said. "I think it's something he enjoys, and he enjoys giving to others."

Zifer grew up Roman Catholic, then became Baptist, and now finds inspiration in a variety of churches, including the Pentecostal ministry. He said he works "full time for the Lord," and he recently began serving as a minister at the Sumter County Jail in Bushnell.

"I didn't know what the Lord had planned for me," Zifer said of his spiritual journey. "That's what happens when you enter into God's game. These are the things that can take place."

His journey began when "something miraculously happened to me," Zifer said. "God changed my life."

In 1998, his wife lost her purse, full of money from payday. The man who returned it wouldn't take a dime. Instead he invited Zifer and his wife, Cathy, to a church revival at Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Zephyrhills.

The "praise and worship" service was nothing like they had ever seen before. Sounds of drums, guitars and cymbals filled the air as people raised their hands to the ceiling.

But Zifer was troubled: "I didn't feel the Holy Spirit."

So he went home and prayed about it. "I said to God, 'Whatever I'm doing wrong, please change me.' "

The next time he went to the church, he raised his hands, hesitantly at first, but then he couldn't put them down even if he had wanted to.

"From that moment on it's been a wild train ride," he said. "It left a churning in my stomach where the Holy Spirit resides."

Much of his energy the past few years has gone into creating a Christian DVD that he's working hard to share with others, visiting churches and appearing as a guest speaker at various events throughout Pasco. The DVD is based on 40 years of exploration in Florida and his relationship with God.

The coaches, players and parents at Pasco High appreciate his support of the football program. His grandsons played on the junior varsity team: Zachary Zifer is the quarterback; Josh Zifer is a receiver.

"He takes pictures every Friday night and also for parent night," said varsity head coach Tom McHugh, who led the team to the state semifinals last year and the playoffs this year.

"The last six years both (football) programs have done very well," junior varsity head coach Rick Gavin said.

Zifer has been dutifully attending the games for the past seven.

"Faith In Motion" is a series of features about individuals or groups doing something inspiring in the course of a spiritual journey. Ideas are welcomed, via e-mail. Send them to [email protected]

High school football in Pasco part of spiritual journey 12/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  2. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion


    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  3. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.
  4. Paul Rodgers replacing ZZ Top on Ribfest 2017 lineup


    In looking to replace the ailing ZZ Top, Ribfest found some good company in Bad Company.

    Paul Rodgers
  5. Some teachers allege 'hostile and racially charged' workplace at Pinellas Park Middle


    PINELLAS PARK — Two black teachers at Pinellas Park Middle have requested transfers out of the school, alleging the work environment there has become "hostile and racially charged."

    Pinellas Park Middle School at 6940 70th Ave N, where some black teachers have alleged they were treated with hostility by colleagues after starting a tutoring program for black students. Just 22 percent of black students were proficient in English language arts in last spring's state tests. Two black teachers have asked to be transfered, according to a letter from two local chapters of the NAACP. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]