Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remembering Nick...no other ramblings

What can I tell you about Nick Threlkeld? Lots of things. Things like the fact he caught more passes than anybody who ever played football in the state of Alabama. His record still stands. And yes, more than Julio Jones, Ozzie Newsome and all the other greats. How 'bout the fact he was a high school All-American in both football and basketball. He would have been in three sports if Hub had a baseball team. He made first team All-State in both sports for three consecutive years. He once blocked 14 shots in a single high school basketball game. He once made 3 free throws with no time left on the clock to win an area championship. He once scored 48 points, including swishing a 45 footer at the buzzer of a 4-overtime game to win a NAC Championship. He had free run of the Alabama sidelines with his sideline pass at Crimson Tide home games. He could have signed to play SEC football with Bama, the Florida Gators or the Tennessee Vols. I once heard a Hall of Fame coach tell him, after playing the Hub, that he was the finest high school football player he had seen in 30 years of coaching. He signed with a Division I basketball team. He scored over 2,500 points, had over 1500 rebounds and blocked over 400 shots in his high school career. All this is staggering, utterly amazing. But it tells you absolutely nothing about what a wonderful human being he was. As great an athlete as he was, he was an even better person.

Today's elite athletes are, for the most part, a group of arrogant, self-centered horse's rear ends who feel like everyone should bow when they walk by. (There are some notable exceptions.) Even the top high school athletes are often infected with the disease of arrogance. Not Nick. Never. Always accessible, always friendly. Coach Harris used to have a poster up in the fieldhouse which said, "You can judge the character of a man by how he treats the people who can do absolutely nothing for him." That fit Nick perfectly. He was kind and compassionate to everyone. I remember his senior year, we were headed to Notasulga in the football playoffs. The charter bus stopped to let us all eat at a Ryan's in Montgomery near Crampton Bowl. We were about to begin eating when I heard a voice say, "Hey guys, it's Threlkeld!" A team from Greene County was also traveling to a playoff game and happened to be in this particular Ryan's when one of them recognized Nick. I sat and watched in amazement (and admiration) while he shook hands, signed autographs and even took some photos with what seemed to be nearly the whole team. These were his fans, his friends, and he was going to return the love they were showing him. It was a great thing to watch. I remember him looking over at me while all this was going on. His expression seemed to say, "why in the world would anybody want my autograph?" I just smiled and nodded at him. I knew exactly why they wanted it. I wish I had one now.

I can only imagine the pressure that went with being Nick. A lot of us unintentionally heaped tons of our expectations and failed dreams on his broad shoulders. He never complained. But how many times did we hear the following or something close to it? "We're counting on you." "Make us proud." "You're going to put us on the map one day." "You're sure to make the big time." "We can't lose as long as we have you." "You're going to play on Sunday someday." "Don't forget about us when you make it in the NBA." "Don't let us down." That's the one that really eats at me. Because I know how desperately he wanted to make everyone happy and proud. And he did. I can only hope he knew how well he succeeded.

We didn't see much of Nick after his college playing days were over. He was busy. Busy working. Busy starting a family. Busy with life. Occasionally, somebody would run into him and would give us a report on how he was doing. But I'm sure there was more to his absence than just being busy. I'm sure he felt like he had let everybody down. That's just the kind of kid he was. But he was so very, very wrong. He took us to places and successes we had only dreamed of. He made us all prouder than ever to be part of a little country school with no town. Proud of the great athlete, yes. But more importantly, proud of him as a person and how he represented us and the Maroon Nation. In so many, many ways, he was the very best of us.

What can I tell you about Nick Threlkeld? Lots of things. He was a good kid. He was a fine young man, carrying on in the tradition of his father, who is one of the finest men I've ever known. Nick was a good husband. A good father. A good son. He was a loyal, caring friend. He was never too busy to help someone. He was one of the very few young people I ever met who realized how a few words of encouragement and a few minutes of attention could make a difference in somebody's life. He was humble, modest and didn't have a hateful bone in his body. He loved the Lord, his family, his many friends and this big old crazy world we're all trying to find our way through. I can also tell you this--we're not likely to see his equal again in our lifetime. Not as an athlete, not as a person. He was one of a kind and we were so lucky to have him as a part of our family.

Nick's passing has left all of us stunned. We're all wondering and worrying about why things happen like they do. That's not for us to know or understand. Somebody infinitely wiser and more powerful than us controls those things. But I do have an idea in my mind that gives me a great deal of comfort. I'm pretty sure that when Nick reached his reward, just inside the gate waiting to give him a hug and show him around were Coach Rodney Marcum, Thomas Dunavant and George Wages. Good friends. Good men. Good lives...goodbye.

The Old Gray Lion


  1. Thanks for the kind words Moose. I know that others will enjoy this read. I am printing it out as we speak. I loved Nick like a little brother and I'll always cherish the memories we shared together. As an athlete, he was everything I dreamed of being. I claimed to be his biggest fan and I hope he knew that. I am just glad I was able to be his friend, cousin, and teammate, although he was called away so soon by the Lord. Thanks Moose! Thanks Nick, I love you!!

    Coach Jeff

  2. This posting really sums up Nick. He had a heart of gold. I feel blessed to have had Nick as a friend, cousin, and classmate. It would not have been the same without Nick in the class of '02. Nick, I love you and I am glad that we have all those wonderful memories to cherish of you. You'll forever be a part of us.

    Allyson Everette Afshar

  3. Coach Moose.. My name is Megan Key. My mother is Teresa Atkins-Hall... Nick's older sister. Nick was and has always been my role model.. Our family has always supported Nick through everything he has done. I am only 21 yrs old.. I played basketball and softball for Oakman High School. I ALWAYS wore #44 as mine just for the fact that i was always looking up to my big uncle. Thank you so much for these wonderful words of kindness you have left in his memory.. My father is Charlie Martin. He told me that you had posted this and I am just reading it. Once again thanks.. the day we found out about Nicks accident me and my younger cousin (who also wore Nick's #44 through her high school days) went and got #44 with angel wings tattooed on the top of our foot. He will always be with me.. I LOVE YOU NICK VERY MUCH... I MISS YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER IMAGINE.. LOVE YOU ALWAYS UNCLE NICK, MEGAN!

  4. My precious baby brother! He loved his school, sports, family, etc., but most of all he loved God, and that's what is important. Everyone should always remember there are no guarantees in life and never take life for granted. He was definitely one of a kind and there will never be another like him. Thanks so much Moose! I love you Nick, and I miss you so much! Your big sis, Teresa

  5. Moose, I had heard through Megan about this blog.No one could have described him better.Hopefully we will be lucky enough that his daugter will inherit some of his traits.I've tried to explain to his wife what kind of person he has always been.And how everyone always loved him.But its hard to just put it into words.I can remember the day he started playing on the B team. And Coach Harris of course made us guard each other even though he was so much taller than me.I won't ever forget all the priceless moments we had together at Hub and growing.I'm sure he's looking down at us all and watching over us.If you know anyone that has any copies of his BasketBall tapes I would greatly appreciate a copy.I want to be able to show my children what an athlete my baby brother was.I will always miss him and never forget him. I Love you Nick April

  6. What can we say about Nick? There is not enough paper or time. My son looked up to him like no other. You are right Moose he did have many accomplishments in school. He was so proud of them. He would aggravate me during football time because I went to another school. He would tell me all the time Hub will beat you. He was proud of the school and his accomplishments but as we all know when we leave school we loose contact with all of our friends that we said we would never doand start on other accomplishments. I never seen Nick in a game but I can tell you this I have never seen a man so happy or the biggest smile on his face to be able to give Cassie and Taylor a special surprise. The biggest smile would be to see his baby coming back from Sunday school running down the isle yelling arms wide open "Daddy Daddy". I miss that every Sunday to see her looking for him. Yes he did accomplimplish so much. A great history at Hubbertville, the accomplishments at his job, his wife and daughter, and the mark he left on all of us. We will miss you so much.

    Stephanie G.

  7. Moose The one I sent earlier that says it was from Stephanie G. I am Nick wife's aunt. I didn't know if you needed that information in order to post my comment. Thank You

  8. There is an aweful lot to say about Nick better known as spiderman in my household... My husband and I leaved beside Nick and Cassie and have known the both of them for over 6 years...
    He is one of the most special people I have ever had the opportunity to meet, get to know and also become a dear friend with!!!! All though you do lose touch with people after school and as the years pass, thats something we didn't do after living beside each other for close to 3 years, we all remained close even though we had our on families and lives we always new we could call on Nick & Cassie at anytime and of course they could do the same!!!
    I didn't know Nick when he played ball in High School, but did get the opportunity to be apart of his life when he played at Bevill in Fayette....
    I have to say there is alot of truth to what is said about Nick in the above, but there is one thing I have to disagree with, if anyone truley knows or new Nick Threlkeld they would know that without any doubt he never felt like he let anyone down...
    There are very few people in Nick's life that he ever worried about letting down #1 being his wife Cassie and I believe to be his soulmate, #2 his beautiful daughter Taylor the love of his life and all the family and friends that stuck by him and believed in him even after basketball(you know who you are)
    It makes me sad to know that someone would use the phrase that Nick would see someone and he would act as if he had let someone down, because that's not the Nick I know or knew!!!!
    Nick's biggest achievment in life was marrying his soulmate and having a family... He is someone that will always be rememberd not for what he did on a Basketball Court or on a Football Field, but for what he accomplished in life that very few people will ever get to enjoy or endure, that being the love that he and Cassie shared because I believe that there are very few people that have that kind of love for each other and also the birth of his baby girl Taylor.....
    There is so much that I could ramble on and say about Nick but if you ever had the chance to be around him, that says it all...
    He is one of the most truley passionate, caring, loving, dependable, funny, outgoing and generous people you'll ever know!!!!
    He will be missed by all, but lives on through his daughter daily..
    We love you and miss you Nick, you will never be forgotten....

    Mary Lollar


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