"I like history because it's about people. I also coach a soccer team, the JV soccer team at the school, and the varsity wrestling team. I'm proud of being a teacher and being a coach."
“I'm not a runner. For the most part you won't catch me running unless there’s a soccer ball. But soccer midfielders tend to run between five and 10 kilometers every game. So, it's great, great training. I have played soccer since I was a little kid. My whole family plays and the older I've gotten, the more I've come to love it. You can play with anyone from anywhere. It transcends all language barriers. Everybody knows the rules. Unless you're an American and then you might not.
I remember when I climbed Kilimanjaro, I went to Zanzibar for some rest and relaxation afterwards. And I wanted to play soccer with some of the kids that were there. I don't speak Swahili but I just went out and we just started playing and that was it. It's a cultural lubricant and I really like that aspect of it.
I was born with one leg and I had parents that from the very beginning were tough-love types of people. They wanted me to have a good mindset and think about assets rather than deficits. I think it’s really just mind over matter. That mentality has gotten me through all the challenges and that's made the challenges feel exciting rather than crushing.
My parents had to do a little bit of legal gymnastics so that I could be cleared to play with able bodied people. Then I played able-bodied soccer throughout high school. Now I play on the U.S. National Amputee Soccer Team. I think it's cool that around the world amputee soccer players are getting recognized by their national organizations and the sport is growing.
It seems like things are getting more and more inclusive today in general with adaptive sports growing and being supported in the media to the same degree as able bodied athletics. It’s not going to be as fast as able-bodied sports or as quote athletic but in some ways, it is just as athletic and just as worthy of appreciation for the effort that people put in. I like the fact that we're shifting our perceptions of worthy competition, we're widening the lens for that.
I just started teaching 10th grade US history. I like history because it's about people. I also coach a soccer team, the JV soccer team at the school, and the varsity wrestling team. I'm proud of being a teacher and being a coach. I think it's important that people devote their time and energy to other people and kind of look beyond profit. So yeah, that's definitely an area of pride for me.
I think it's cool that there is no adaptive category for the Bionic5k. It's just everyone running a race together. The fact that it's not segregated in that sense is really refreshing. It just felt like a really supportive, kind of less formal event. It wasn't a competition, so it was uplifting for that reason. I liked drinking beer with people afterwards. That's a great part of it. I'm going to do my best to bring as many amputee soccer players from the national team to the Bionic5k this year as I can. And I'm always looking to find players to play on our regional teams.
If I had to put my motto on a tee shirt it would be “Have grit.” Yeah. Have grit. I do have a tee shirt that I like from the No Barriers conference that says “what's within you is stronger than what's in your way.” I also pulled a fortune cookie one time that said “life is not a matter of holding a good hand of cards, but rather playing a poor hand well.” I liked that one, too.
The best song to run to is 'Ultimatum' by Disclosure. It's happy. I like running to electronic music because it has a consistent rhythm and a strong beat.
What advice do I have for other people? I would say the most important thing is not to compare yourself to others, but just to compare yourself to yourself. With hard work and taking risks you'll be rewarded, even if you fail. If you're going at it and you're trying, that's the most important part. Just going out and trying new things and giving your best shot and not being concerned about how you rank amongst other people. If you're improving, that's really all that matters.”
- Nico, Bionic5k athlete