Nickerson transforms himself, game

Nick Nickerson fights for yardage against Tomales. Photo by Chris Mora.

What Nick Nickerson did from his sophomore year to his junior year at Anzar High has been nothing short of mind-boggling. The 5-foot-6, 185-pounder said he dropped 50 pounds in that time period, driven by his desire to get in shape and realize his football potential.

“I knew I had missed out on more playing time in my sophomore year because I wasn’t in good shape,” said Nickerson, a fullback and linebacker/defensive end for a Hawks squad that enters Saturday’s game against Crystal Springs Uplands at 1-3 overall. “I needed to be dedicated, to show up everyday and work.”

Nickerson has done a 180-degree turnaround involving his mental approach as well.

“I was not thinking of the team last year—I was just thinking of myself,” he said. “And this year honestly I’m thinking about my teammates and wanting to be a good teammate.”

Hawks coach Kollin Kosmicki said Nickerson has led by example, a big reason why Nickerson was chosen as the team captain.

“He was one of the guys who were really impressive in the off-season,” Kosmicki said. “He put in a lot of work and got in good shape. This year he’s really blossomed where you can see the difference in something like sprinting drills in which he’s one of the fastest guys on the team. I picked him as captain because of the example he sets with his work ethic.”

Nickerson’s tireless work ethic results in a bruising running style in which he constantly churns out yardage by getting low, driving his legs and having a will to never stop.

“He’s like a bull going up the middle,” Kosmicki said. “When he gets a head of steam, he can really run over guys. He just runs really hard when he gets the ball, and that makes a big difference.”

Nickerson has a twin brother on the team in Matt, who engendered plenty of excitement as he learned the offense as the quarterback. Matt showed flashes of brilliance before suffering a groin injury three weeks ago. The team hopes to get him back under center for next week’s game, which would be vital in Anzar finishing the season strong.

Nick Nickerson has also made an impact defensively, and in some instances he takes equal or greater pride in playing defense compared to offense.

“If you can make a solid tackle or put a great hit on someone, it’s an amazing feeling,” he said.

Since Nickerson plays both ways, he rarely comes off the field. With football being such a physical game, Nickerson often wakes up very sore the day after a game.

“The next day you feel it for sure,” he said.

Nickerson’s physical transformation from his sophomore to junior year was nothing short of remarkable. Nickerson said he worked out up to six hours a day—combining strength-training and running with the track team—and making smarter food choices to drop the pounds in rapid fashion.

“People were shocked for sure I was able to lose that many pounds,” he said. “My parents were getting worried, though, especially my mom. She said I was doing too much, but fortunately I was able to stay strong all the way through.”

Nickerson is only in his second year of playing the game—he didn’t try out for the team as a freshman, citing an intimidation factor and not having confidence. In his first-ever game as a sophomore last year, Nickerson felt a bit of unease.

“It was definitely crazy,” he said. “I wasn’t ready at all, but it was fun. Things seemed to be going crazy fast and so quick, but eventually things started to slow down.”

Despite being so new to the game, Nickerson has caught on fast, and he’ll be one of the vital keys for Anzar the rest of the way.

Nickerson’s best game came in a 44-27 win over Kings Christian on Aug. 30, as he rushed for 103 yards on just four carries for a 25.8-yards per carry average.  The Hawks are down to their fourth-string quarterback after getting hit by a number of injuries; however, they should be getting reinforcements soon as the players heal up and some become eligible to play.

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