Like father, like son

Football coach Tom Nickelson changes position when freshmen Carson Nickelson joins team


Photo by: Francisco Castaneda

Freshman Carsen Nickelson throws the ball to his teammate. On September 14, the Pittsburg Dragons played against the Frontenac Raiders. The dragons succeed to defeat the Raiders 22 to 14.

Story by Ian Sullivan, Reporter

For the first time in his 21 year coaching career head football coach Tom Nickelson has had to coach his own son in high school athletics. Freshman Carsen Nickelson plays quarterback and defensive back for the freshman football team.

“Carsen has been around football since he could walk,” Tom said. “He’s been with me at practices and games and he’s been watching film with me since he could walk so he’s been around the game since birth.”

According to Tom, he and Carsen have bonded over sports throughout their lives.

“Sports have always been kind of central in both of our lives. We’ve played catch since the very beginning, always in the backyard shooting baskets, playing catch, kicking the soccer ball. It’s just kind of always been a central theme in our lives.”

During the offseason, Carsen noticed a change of pace with his dad.

“My dad has helped me prepare for high school sports by doing different drills or just going and playing catch in the yard,” Carsen said. “But it changed this offseason when he pused me in the weight room and making me go harder during this offseason.”

Prior to this season, Tom was the quarterback’s coach, however he is now the running back’s coach in order to avoid preferential treatment.

“I wanted him to have a good experience but I didn’t want his experience to be any different than any other kids,” Tom said. “I didn’t want to treat him any different. I changed positions for that reason, I wanted somebody else that was impartial.”.

Most times, Tom tries to direct Carsen to his position coach if he needs help with something on the field.

“If he has questions when he’s watching film, I’ll answer those, but I try to defer most of it to Coach Butler, his position coach,” Tom said. “I want him to have that same experience as his teammates, so if it’s something pressing I’ll help him with it, if it’s something else he can wait and ask Coach Butler.”

Carsen credits Tom with helping him improve his skill set in athletics.

“He has helped coach with other sports but has not been the actual head coach,” Carsen said, “But he has helped me with baseball and football and has helped me improve a lot in different parts of the games.”

Overall, Carsen enjoyed his first year playing high school football.

“I have enjoyed my first year of football because now I know what it is like to have all those team bonding experiences that I have been told about in the past,” Carsen said. “I also enjoyed it because of my coaches, teammates, and the memories we have made that I will never forget.”

Tom hopes that Carsen learns the same lessons as his teammates.

“I want him to learn about sacrifice, dedication, hard work, discipline, the same thing I want all of our Dragons to learn about,” Tom said. “Football is still one of the sports where it takes multiple people to make a successful team. It’s never about one guy so I want him to learn to do your job and just remember it’s always about the team.”

According to Carsen, it was his dad that taught him to give his entire effort.

“[My dad taught me that] in order to get better you have to do everything with 100 percent effort whether it is conditioning or practice,” Carsen said. “That doesn’t just apply to football, it applies in life too.”