Hingham, Ma -Many athletes are faced with more challenges than we realize. From an outside perspective we only see a one sided view of what truly goes on in a young athletes life. For junior goalie Niko DeCola, lacrosse has been a vocal point in his life for years. What was once a safety net, is now a question mark as the coronavirus as thrown the world upside down.
Lacrosse came to DeCola at a young age. Reflecting on how his interest in lacrosse started, he says, “both my brothers on my moms side played at the time, so whenever they needed a goalie I’d just hop in.” He continues, “Goalie ended up being my position of choice just because I never liked the running part”. A position that takes patience turned into a start to DeCola’s career.
In sixth grade everything clicked for DeCola. “My team and I were basically unstoppable, tearing through some of the top teams in the country like they were a JV team”. A summer that would change DeCola’s view on Lacrosse forever ended with an outstanding accomplishment. “At the end of the summer my team and I recorded a record of 32-0 through a series of 8 tournaments”. To have a team oriented mindset in the sixth grade is a rare quality to have as a young athlete.
“Goalie ended up being my position of choice just because I never liked the running part”Niko DeCola on why he became a goalie
Throughout the years DeCola has seen a lot of upside, including being ranked one of the top goalies in the country … but there’s also been some downside. “I know that I could work harder but finding that driving edge to help me get out there is a struggle sometimes”. DeCola explained. “ When I was in my prime, I was one of the top-8 goalies in the nation”.
Feeling lost or burnt out is normal in athletes of all ages, and that will to keep going is one of the toughest things to overcome. “As of right now In 2020 I feel like I’m in the shadows.” DeCola said. “I need to find that love for the game again. That one that used to bring me joy every time I picked up the stick”. Sports become a small part of life when faced with different obstacles along the way. For DeCola finding his place has been a main priority for him. “ I don’t feel like I’m in the shadows of anyone but myself”. DeCola said. “I feel more disconnected with myself”.
Being a 16 year old athlete and being faced challenges bigger than sports does a lot to someone’s character. The want to be successful is what drives DeCola to keep moving forward, but the people in his life are the most important. “my parents and my family”. DeCola said. “Man, those are my people. I’ve been through everything with them, they’ve always supported me through everything and I don’t think they’ll ever know how much I thank them for that”.
With the coronavirus pandemic it has put DeCola’s season at a standstill. During this time where Nick was forced to take a step back from his team, he reflected personally on what this pandemic has done for him. “I feel very saddened that some people that I call family couldn’t get their last ride with me”. DeCola said. “That these kids put 3 years into sports and can’t get the senior season. Personally, I’m upset because I was excited to play this season. It was a very important season”. DeCola said with frustration. “I just hope everyone is staying safe”.
“I feel very saddened that some people that I call family couldn’t get their last ride with me”. DeCola said. “That these kids put 3 years into sports and can’t get the senior season. Personally, I’m upset because I was excited to play this season. It was a very important season”.DeCola on coronavirus shortening his season
Young athletes are held up on such a high pedestal that the realization of being human goes out the window. For DeCola he’s faced with a decision many are struggling to deal with, but don’t have the courage to talk about it. As for once highly recruited goalie Niko DeCola this is his story.