Nick Haberer grew up kicking a football on the red soils of Bundaberg and now he's been selected to play American football for a US college team.
Nick will be joining the Washington State Cougars with a full scholarship at Washington State University.
Nick said it was beyond belief to accept the “full-ride scholarship” to play American football, which is known as gridiron in Australia, and study either nutrition or dietetics at Washington State University.
Growing up in the Bundaberg Region, Nick was Avoca State School captain and attended Bundaberg State High School before his athletic dream took him further afield.
The 19-year-old said he had put in the hard yards, and was excited the effort was finally paying off with the opportunity to play for Washington State Cougars.
Nick said his time spent playing Aussie rules, and with great coaches such as Geoff Ebert and ex-Brothers Bulldogs coach Rob McGill, had guided him in the direction to take up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Playing AFL with Brothers Bulldogs got me there,” Nick said.
“A big moment for me was when we won the flag in 2015, then I started to get pretty serious and spent two years with Lions Academy.
“I wanted to play AFL for Brisbane Lions, but I got unlucky.”
That’s when a suggestion from a mate helped change Nick’s football path, and guided him in the direction of a sport he has never played before.
“My mate said I could get picked-up by colleges, so I went to Prokick Australia for a couple of sessions – and I loved every minute of it instantly,” Nick said.
“I was so in love with it I made the code switch, packed up my belongings and I moved to Melbourne.”
Nick said although he has never played a single game of gridiron, he had an extra advantage over his American counterparts after growing up in Australia.
“I have played AFL most of my life and the advantage of that is I grew up kicking the football,” he said.
“They (American footballers) grew up throwing a football.”
On the Washington State Cougars football field Nick’s position will be punter and he will be used for his ability to kick long while giving the ball plenty of air time.
“My role will be, when they can’t do anything else offensively, they call me out,” he said.
“I haven’t actually played a minute of NFL yet, but my training is intense and there’s a lot of pressure.
“I am just very excited, and I know my dad’s super proud.
“It’s going to be a wild experience and another very cool thing will be all the fans, college football over there is just insane.”
Nick said advice for young Bundaberg footballers was to take every opportunity as it arose and don’t settle for second best.
“I am a big believer in when one door closes another door opens,” Nick said.
“A big thing I want other young kids to know is if something doesn’t go the right way, don’t dwell on it. Grab the next opportunity and take it, as you’ll never know where it will take you.”
Nick will make the move to Washington State University in January 2021, and each of the Washington State Cougars football games will be broadcast to Australia on ESPN.
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