Maturity Through Adversity

Results are a direct by-product of the amount of effort a person puts into something. Says the Hurricane Senior, Nicholas McDaniel, “You have to put in the work. You can’t just expect things to go your way. You have to earn it.”

Hurricane High Class of 2016 Football, Soccer & Track 3.8GPA

The daily routine for this three-sport athlete (football, soccer, and track) goes a bit like this. At 5:50 am the alarm goes off to wake Nicholas for his Cross Fit workout. After Cross Fit he heads to school. Depending on the day (and the wonderfully unreliable Southern Utah weather), Nicholas begins football practice at either 3:15 pm or 6:00 pm. Practice generally lasts close to three hours. Homework gets completed for Nicholas when he finally returns home. After homework, in Nicholas’ words, it’s “Shower, sleep, wake and repeat. I get to do it all again the next morning.”

Before attending any college, Nicholas plans to first return from an LDS mission. He would love to serve in England, yet will be pleased regardless of where he is called. “I know I will be happy wherever I go.” For college however, Nicholas hopes to receive a scholarship to play football, and study to acquire a teaching degree. “I really like kids and working with kids. I like to teach people. I would love to be a high school coach for Hurricane. Any sport really, just something where I can work with and teach other kids and help them, much like my coaches have helped me.”

“I can’t take anything for granted. It means so much to be able to play after everything I’ve gone through.”

“A lot of what our coaches teach us about is dedication, hard work, not giving up, and really putting in work.” Nicholas has learned the value of hard work from not only what his coaches do and demonstrate, but the messages they embed in their players’ minds. “We have a motto in our weight room that helps motivate me. It reads, ‘Did you work like a State Champion today?’ That will translate to our jobs, my mission, our schooling. It helps us see that if we want something, we can put in the work to get it.”

Family friend, Alicia Sterling, shares that she is most impressed by Nicholas’ humility, calling it his greatest asset. She says, “He will never tell you how good he is. He does not brag about himself at all. When people say he has had a great game, Nicholas will put it back on the team and say that the team did great. He never takes the credit.”

One thing Nicholas is very aware of is how he is perceived in the public eye. “You represent your school and Hurricane football,” he explains. “People don’t want to see you doing something stupid because that sets a bad example and creates a horrible name for your team. I believe that what you put out in the public represents who you really are, and what you stand for.”

The Quarterfinal game against Juan Diego stands out for Nicholas, seeing as Juan Diego and Hurricane are big rivals. At one point during the match up, Hurricane was on defense, and Nicholas was playing the zone, reading the quarterback and offense. In a highlight moment during the game, Nicholas baited the quarterback into throwing to a receiver. While doing so, he rushed in for a pick-six, intercepting the ball and running it in for a touchdown. “We scored again on the very next drive too, off a pass. That whole drive was good for our team playing our biggest rivals.”


In sports, athletes ride a roller coaster of physical ups and downs. Typically, receiving an injury is the steepest down on the ride of sports, but for Nicholas, his injury proved to be a blessing in disguise. While playing Nicholas took a hard hit and suffered a severe leg break.

“When he got hit I could hear it…” Alicia recalls. “We knew he was injured. There we were, I was looking at his mom Ashlee, and she was looking at me. We both knew he was hurt. The first thing he said though after they brought him off the field was that he didn’t want to let his team down. Even hurt he wasn’t thinking about himself.” Ashlee, Nicholas’ mother, recalls, “Nicholas was devastated and heartbroken.”

“The leg break was not just a break. Surgery and rehab was definitely a part of it all,” explained Nicholas. Yet, with the break came the disguised blessing. “I found out when I got to the doctors that I had a tumor that was weakening my leg.” It was through his leg break that Nicholas and his family members were able to identify a potentially serious problem. A health problem that could have developed into something much worse had it continued to go unnoticed. “Through it all though, I learned a lot of patience. In those moments you really embrace the people who love you and support you. I can say I am thankful for it all now. I see it as a blessing.”

Nicholas has put a great deal of time into his preparation for his final season of high school football. Having successfully made it through the pains of an injury, the shock of a serious and sudden medical condition, and rigorous rehab, Nicholas is grateful for the strength he has gained through it all. “I can’t take anything for granted,” he says. “It means so much to be able to play after everything I’ve gone through.” • HSSI