Photo Courtesy of Nico Nicholson ’17 | Nico Nicholson ’17 takes his oath to the United States Navy. Nicholson will forego college to enlist in the Navy and hopes to work in the nuclear division.
By Jack Davis ’19
Attending a university is generally thought of as customary after a student obtains his or her high school diploma.
However, one soon-to-be Brophy graduate and former football player, Nico Nicholson ’17, has decided to forgo tradition and enlist in the U.S. Navy.
“It’s just been one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do since I was little,” Nicholson said. “I’ve always been out in the front yard with toy guns.”
One thing that makes Nicholson’s decision uncommon is his choice to do without ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) and immediately enter the Navy.
“Funds were getting just a little bit low for college,” he said. “What it came down to was either community college or just going in. I decided I might as well go in because I qualified for the nuclear program.”
Nicholson said that he found the Navy’s nuclear program to be extremely appealing to him.
“The fact that I can be a nerd and still serve and protect my country and the people I care about is really cool,” Nicholson said. “I’ve always really liked the idea of the nuclear field even when I didn’t think I was going to enlist straight out of high school. So, by the guidance of God, I get to do really one of the things I’ve always wanted to do.”
“Another thing is that I get to handle top secret information, so that’ll be really cool,” he added.
A close friend of Nicholson’s, Jordan Briggs ’17, said that his teammate and confidant’s decision to join the armed services was bittersweet.
“To be honest, my heart broke just a little when I found out he was going [to the Navy],” Briggs said. “He had brought it up and seemed passionate about it plenty of times before, but I always thought it was going to be a backup plan if he didn’t get the financial help he needed for college.”
“So, as the months went by and it started to look like he wasn’t going to get any scholarships, I figured, ‘Oh, he’s just going to go to U of A,’ but then, he broke the news to me,” Briggs added. “Part of me wanted me to be happy for him, and the other part of me was already missing him.”
Football teammate Caleb Moore ’17 said that he was shocked when he heard Nicholson’s choice but supportive
“I thought he was going to pursue a college football career…,” he said. “I think this is really what’s best for him.”
Briggs said that he has been close with Nicholson since the beginning of his time at Brophy.
“We’ve been friends for four years now, but it feels like forever,” he said. “We know each other so well and he is one of two people I tell my deepest secrets too because I trust and love him.”
“He’s easily my best friend,” he added. “I’m not sure when the next time is that I’ll see him again. He is a super smart and loving guy, and one heck of a football player.”
Moore also said that he has been close with Nicholson throughout his Brophy career.
“We’ve been friends ever since I shadowed Max Fees ’17 my sophomore year before transferring [from Chandler High School],” Moore said. “He was one of the first people I talked to at Brophy.”
Nicholson played football his entire Brophy career, with the exception of his junior season.
“I was just sick and tired of football, but seeing my friends play it and seeing it on TV [made me come back],” he said. “The main reason I like football is because the uniforms look cool, and I get to make people look bad.”
Briggs said that Nicholson’s lack of recruitment options was unfortunate.
“No one would recruit him because of size,” Briggs said. “It’s really their loss, they missed out on a dynamic player and excellent teammate.”
Nicholson said that his mother has played a large role in shaping him into the person he is today.
“A source of inspiration has to be my mom for putting up with me,” he said. “That sounds pretty cliché, but I get certain ways at certain times. Her putting up with me definitely allows me to have patience.”
Briggs said that Nicholson’s loyalty makes him a special companion.
“His best quality is his loyalty, not only to me but to his family,” he said. “He has five brothers whom he cares about so much and a girlfriend whom he loves and does everything he can for.”
“You will never see Nico putting himself before his family or friends,” Briggs added. “He sometimes overwhelms himself with that, but that’s not a bad thing. He definitely deserves more appreciation.”
Moore said that he’ll miss Nicholson’s sincerity.
“He isn’t too shy about anything and always helps keep me in check,” he said. “He’s a really great friend.”