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WesFiles Player: Nick Richards '20

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Throughout his football journey at Wesleyan, Nick Richards has proven to be an excellent teammate and captain. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native stands at 6'2" and weighs in at 270 pounds, effectively embodying the traditional build of a football player. During his career on the defensive line, Richards has accumulated 43 tackles (17 solo, 26 assisted), 1.5 sacks, and 8.5 tackles-for-loss (*as of 10/15/19). His skills are even more impressive given his late start, having played for the first time as a freshman in high school. 

Richards speaks fondly of his choice to start playing football despite New York being a basketball focused city. "I choose Midwood for the football opportunities," expressed Richards. "It definitely shifted my high school experience, kept me on the right track, allowed me to make lifelong friends, and helped build character." Indeed, his experience as a high school player was nothing short of idyllic, with Midwood having a strong football fan base that regularly showed support at games. This all-American experience was only strengthened by the support of his family. Richards laughingly explains, "My mom is a total soccer mom and my dad is Trinidadian, so he didn't know too much about football when I started, but they're both very supportive and come to every home game", and further declares, "They're my biggest fans." 

Familial support also motivated Richards to maintain his academics even with a rigorous football schedule. As is the case with many athletes, developing a healthy balance between sports, school work, and free time was a learning process for Richards, but he approached it with confidence. "[In high school] I kind of had no choice but to figure it out. I got out of practice at 7 p.m. during football season, so I had to be disciplined in my regimen." Though he'd mastered the work/life balance, he wasn't quite ready for the shift from being a big fish in a small pond to being surrounded by a large group of similarly motivated and talented students. Despite the difficult transition and possibly bruised ego, Richards proudly declares, "You have to work harder to be here." This understanding has followed him throughout his four years and he insists that, while the course work is hard, his framework for success is the same

While balance is crucial, Richards makes no attempt to minimize the impact of sports on his Wesleyan experience. When prompted to describe his time on the football team, he said, "It's been fulfilling, we have lots of fun but it's also a challenging environment. I've made lots of meaningful connections and had many networking opportunities." After four years of working with the team, and one year of being a captain, he has gained valuable skills in leadership and collaboration. He speaks plainly about what it truly means to take initiative and strive to understand others, "Football has taught me that leading people is not as easy as it looks. You have to know and respect the people that you're leading if you want any productivity out of them, and you must understand how to work with others from different walks of life. This teaches you to value differing perspectives in a way you may not find outside of Wesleyan." This statement truly embodies Wesleyan's ideals as an institution committed to the growth of its students, not only as individuals, but as citizens of a global society. This is something Richards is passionate about as both the community outreach director of 'Invisible Man' – Wesleyan's men of color collective that offers a sense of community and resources to its members – and as an academic peer advisor, assisting students in making well-informed decisions concerning their academic career. He stressed his enjoyment of the latter stating that, "Advising helps me keep myself organized because I have to be an example to advisees, while also being put together enough to help them out. It's a fun job, and I enjoy seeing the fruit of my labor: helping people with their academic success."

Richards described his initial attraction to Wesleyan as inexplicable, "When I came here for my visit, I felt that it was the most diverse institution among the other elite schools I was looking at. I loved the coaching style, educational opportunities, and the overall vibe. I was just attracted to the energy here, and I didn't feel that anywhere else." That same open environment, constant support, and his own passion for facilitating community and helping others has assisted Richards throughout his studies as a biology major, and facilitated his shift in career focus from forensics to health care. With the intention of becoming a physician's assistant in mind, he detailed the next steps in his academic journey, "Over the winter, I am trying to become certified in EKG/phlebotomy and then apply for a three-year physician's assistant program. I'm planning to attend grad school." The distinct twinkle in his eye as he discussed his passion reflects the desire of every student to find their true path.

As a senior, his time at Wesleyan is coming to an end, and while he has big plans for his future, he is in no rush to leave his home of four years. For this year, he is excited about having more academic flexibility and free time, as well as feeling truly settled socially and academically. He sums up his undergraduate experience in seven words, "It took a while, but now we're here."