Thursday, June 4, 2015

A State Title for Yale-Bound Nicholas

Before graduating from Scarsdale High School, James Nicholas '19 won a state golf championship after playing hockey and football during the school term. (LoHud photos)
James Nicholas '19, one might argue, is Westchester's best all-around prep athlete this year.  It would be hard to refute the claim.  For Scarsdale High School, he has starred in ice hockey, golf, and football. And he could have elected to play any of the three in college.

He grabbed yet another honor June 1 by winning the New York State championship in golf (for public high schools).  He shot an even-par 71 in the tournament's second round on the golf course at Cornell to win by one stroke and become Westchester's first state champion in 11 years. He will compete in the New York Federation championship, which includes Long Island, June 7.

In football, a storied season was interrupted by injury, but he still proved to Yale he could play in the Ivy League. At 5-11, 185 pounds, he returned kicks, caught passes and played defensive back for Scarsdale and was an All-State honoree despite the injury. He led the Red Raiders in rushing and receiving.

In ice hockey, he scored 100 goals in the past two seasons and earned All-State selection three times.

Nicholas was recruited by Yale football coaches, who preferred he concentrate on one sport.  He wanted to play two of the three and convinced a reluctant Yale head coach Tony Reno to allow him to play football and golf. Ice hockey's season starts during the second half of fall football and winds up as golfers start, so he eliminated that as a possibility in college.

Nicholas had leverage.  He could choose the college that was willing to be flexible about his sport choices. Yale agreed, and he will join the Elis' football and golf teams. (He announced in January he would attend Yale.)

In football, he was recruited as an "athlete," a player who could play one or more positions or a player who because of multiple talents doesn't yet have to be pigeon-holed into a slot on the first day. For now, Yale has penciled him as a defensive back.

In golf, he will join a Yale squad that finished fifth in the Ivy League this spring.

Nicholas' father, Stephen, played football at Harvard.  In academics, he has told Yale he is interested in orthopedic surgery (like his father).  He will be the only Westchester football player on the Yale team during the 2015 season.

ADDENDUM (Sept. 14)

The National Football Foundation announced in early September that Nicholas is one of 40 finalists from around the country for its annual High School Scholar-Athlete awards for excellence in athletics, academics and community service.  The Foundation will name five of the 40 finalists as award-winners, who will be honored in New York in December. Nicholas was selected from a pool of 3,500 athletes.

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