Kodiaks News · John Nieman: Hard Work Pays Off in Athletics

Interview with John Nieman ’19 

When did you begin school at CSS?

I began at CSS in Kindergarten 12 years ago.

What do you enjoy about sports at CSS?

I enjoy competing with my peers, but also I like the opportunity to try new sports that I might not attempt at a larger school. I also enjoy coming to school the next day, and the school is excited about our successes. I remember at the FVS game last year, there were a bunch of fans in the stands who erupted when we went into overtime, and then they came up to me the next day at school. So, the community is great because we celebrate each other’s successes. Overall, it is just a great place to compete and participate in sports.

As an athlete who competes for another school, what sacrifices do you make?

I sacrifice a lot of nights that I could spend with friends. I also sacrifice opportunities such as school overnights because I am expected to be at practice, and I let down my team when I skip.  

What are the benefits of competing in football and lacrosse at St. Marys?

I have gained a lot of new friends. I have also joined another community who supports me. St. Mary’s has also allowed me to try new sports, like football, which I would not be able to try at CSS. Lastly, playing for another school has taught me how to communicate more effectively with my coaches and captains/teammates.

What is your favorite sport and why?

My favorite sport is football because the atmosphere at the games is incredible. When the stands are full, and a touchdown is scored or a game is won, the ground shakes, and nothing compares to knowing that you helped to make that happen.

How are you using your experiences through sports in other parts of your life?

Sports have taught me about dedication and attention to detail which have helped me through my school life. Sports have also taught me what is possible when you give all of your effort, and this has transferred to both school and my work life, and has greatly improved my relationships with my teachers and bosses. Lastly, sports have improved my confidence which has pushed me to try new things. I believe that these have helped me to succeed outside of sports, and I think that these traits have become essential to my character.

As a 3-sport athlete, how do you find balance in your life and for school work?

I have learned how to schedule my life effectively, but also how to manage my time very well. By understanding when I can work and when I am busy, I have learned how to be focused on every task at hand. I have also learned how to talk to teachers when I feel overworked or stressed, and they have helped push me through it. Staying focused on effectively using study halls and breaks to complete what work I can, so that I have less to do at home, has helped me to keep my workload low. I have made sure to get everything done early, such as over weekends, so that I do not fall behind, but rather stay ahead. Lastly, I have used my practices and games as a way to get away from school work and to destress, which has kept me sane throughout my high school career. This all has allowed me to become a committed athlete, while still completing my school work, like multiple APs, at high levels. It has required sacrifices along the way, but I think it is worth it to be a part of the team that sports provide.

What legacy do you want to leave at CSS?

I would like people at CSS to remember me as a committed student-athlete who focused on receiving a quality education while still working hard on the field/court. I also would like to be remembered for the effort I have given, and the hours I have put in to improve everything I do.

What are your favorite sports quotes and why?

“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” — Bobby Knight

I love this quote because it reminds me that everybody is willing to win and celebrate a win, but it is the effort and commitment that few are willing to put in, that allows us to win and go above. Basically, everybody wants to win, but few will put in the work. This quote tells me to put in the work, every practice and every game.

“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” — Babe Ruth

I love this quote because it tells me that nobody cares what happened in the past, but it is what you do in the future that counts. Whether you made a mistake or a great play, it doesn’t matter, because if you remember and focus on the past, then it messes up your future. This has pushed me through my failures, but has also pushed me to keep working toward my successes.

What is your favorite memory so far from your athletic career?

My favorite memory (from CSS sports) was during my sophomore year against Ellicott in basketball. When there was 4 seconds left on the clock, I got the ball at their free throw line, raced down the court dribbling with my left hand, and hit a last second buzzer beater layup to win. This is my favorite memory because I had always looked up to my teammates who were juniors and seniors, and I didn’t feel like I was making an impact as a younger player.  But on this one play, I knew without a doubt that I had helped our team to win. And that gave me pride and passion, but I think I also made some new friends that day.

My favorite memory (outside of school) is last year, my junior year, when our St. Mary’s football team won our first game in what seemed like forever. The whole team felt pride and was ecstatic, and this feeling lasted for at least a week. After the win, we all raced the field and poured water on our coach, and I think people watching must have thought we had won the Super Bowl. I loved this moment because it showed what happens when you get out of the low and hit that great moment that you have been striving for, and it makes all the conditioning, pushups, and effort worth it.

What are your goals moving forward in regards to athletics?  School? Life?

My plan for the next four years is to attend the United States Naval Academy where I plan to play club lacrosse, lift weights, and maybe join the cheer squad. After the Academy, I will serve my country in uniform as a Nuclear Engineer or a Marine. And then I will create a small business featuring American made items.

What advice would you leave for those CSS athletes who follow in your footsteps?

I would advise anyone who follows me to be committed to everything they do, for there is no point in doing something if you don’t give 100%. Also, you should commit to something you are interested in. You will not get through late nights and early mornings for a sport or class that you do not love. And lastly, work to be great at everything you do. The worst I see in sports is someone who is average at thirty things. There is no point in being average at everything, but if you work to be great at what you love, hone your skills, and do everything you can to be the best, then everything will work out in the end.