Student Nomination Story

It was the end of my junior year, summer break had just started. I was excited for the summer so I could do whatever I wanted. Little did I know this would lead to a bad place. I tore my ACL in both of my knees back to back years—I dealt with the same injury two years in a row. The injury itself wasn’t bad, the mental game was hard to play. I had to watch all of my buddies have fun while I just sat on the sidelines. I had to watch my teammates grind as I just sat in the crowd. I felt like I wasn’t even part of the team. With self motivation I used this to train so I could be with my friends for senior year. School is what kept me disciplined as I would tutor people rather than play sports. But once summer hit, I had all the time in the world while Josh, my twin brother, had to go to football. I felt as if I had drifted away from my twin brother without really knowing it- this was attributed to negative feelings in everyday life. He would go play football, while I hung around the wrong crowd. He would go to bed early, I would go to parties late at night only to get into more trouble. I was lost, trying to find what made me happy. Passionate. Hard-working. Impactful. Trent Wehlage, a new football coach, had contacted me. He asked, “Where the heck you been?” He encouraged me to come and support the boys. I wasn’t planning on going till he had been nagging on me to come to practices. I decided to go to the football practice; the first week going to practice was awful; I couldn’t do what I wanted anymore. At this moment I didn’t realize that Coach Trent was saving me without possibly knowing it himself. I was close with my brother again due to Coach Trent. I became disciplined again due to Coach Trent. I became happy again due to Coach Trent. Thank you, Coach Trent. You made me feel like I was part of the football team. With your passion for coaching, I was able to see what it took to be successful. Not only have you helped me, but you have helped my brother as well. You instilled the love for football in Josh again- he was going to quit junior year. Your coaching style is unlike many others. To many coaches, they just see players, but you see us as more than just that- as friends. The culture that you brought to the running back/tight end squad was incredible. You made the crew care for the game and care for each other. You didn’t just teach football, you taught how to live life- to live with passion. “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Part of living life with a passion is to work hard at everything and to never give up. You have taught me this valuable lesson of work ethic. I realized that through your struggles with finding a job, your outlook on life never changed. You didn’t shut down, but worked even harder so you could be in a better place. Thank you for being a part of my life and I hope we can keep in touch for many years to come.

Jacob Nielsen

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.