Nick Aguayo, 17, was experiencing a much different daily life in September 2018. As a senior stand out at Wilson High School (West Covina, California), the quarterback and leader of the football team, the star on the basketball team, an elite track star, and a social kid, Nick was living a life that was constantly filled with places to go, people to see, and things to do.
“Aguayo with another touchdown!“ This was familiar background noise for Nick, as he was a mobile quarterback who could escape the pocket, run for first downs, or on the rubber track he could out-run anybody in the 100 yard dash. This was all up until the night of September 28, 2018.
The last thing that sticks and Nick’s head is the announcer, “Aguayo with the quarterback keeper coming off the edge, here comes the defensive player trailing Aguayo. The defensive player drills Aguayo from behind straight into the ground headfirst.”
In his own words: “I remember my dad coming out onto the field from the stands and looking down at me on the turf, telling me to get up. All I could do was look back at him and tell him, for the first time in my life, that I was unable to get up after getting hit. That was when it all hit me, of whether or not I would be playing football on scholarship in college at Sacramento State or the University of La Verne or Ave Maria (schools that Nick had offers to play at). However, I also knew that whatever had just happened to me was not going define me. I was going to get back up on my feet someway, somehow.” Nick had sustained a cervical level spinal cord injury.
The speed at which Nick lives his life now is much different, but much more methodical. His recovery has been nothing short of a miracle, but he has been pre-disposed to this type success and these types of challenges for many years.
“My accident was strictly just a bump in the road and truthfully I didn’t want what had happened to me to change me as a person. I still have the mindset of an athlete and I have a mentality that drives me to work out on the daily to recover my full potential.”
Nick started his post hospital recovery regiment at The Perfect Step “TPS” in October 2018 through the help and the funding of The Be Perfect Foundation. Initially, when Nick started in the program he was unable to bear weight on his right side, and did not have the ability to run. (I bet you can guess, where this is headed next)
“Since starting at TPS I have become much stronger, increased my stamina, regained better balance and coordination, and my fast twitch muscles are returning. I have no doubt that I will be back on the track in the spring doing what I love again.”
Nick, being the athlete that he is, is constantly setting goals for himself. As a track star who used to run a 10.95 in the 100 meter dash, and also competed in the 200 on the track, still has aspirations to get back out on the track this spring and to go to CIF playoffs. However, that would mean that he needs to start running again. (Check out the video attached to this post to see Nick’s progress towards running again)
“Sports have always been a part of my life. Right now I am still coaching eighth-grade basketball, and I still play pick up basketball on the regular, even after my accident. I grew up playing travel AAU basketball and I have no doubt that I will get back to doing that soon enough with some hard work.”
Nick’s family has been the rock that he has needed to drive him forward. They have been extremely positive and supportive and they have never made it hard for him. He feels as if he is no different because of his family and their ability to adapt to his situation.
“While my family has been great for my recovery, my friends have also been a greatly supportive entity in my life. I’m still able to hang out a lot with them on the weekends, even though I am not going to school on campus this semester. I am getting my school credits done at home this semester and focusing on my therapy, and I will return second semester on campus. I do miss the aspect of being at school, seeing all the people and how excited they get to see me. However, that does not detour me from making the effort to see my friends on the weekend so we can go out and eat together, congregate at birthday parties, and of course my favorite thing to do go joy ride in the car and just listen to music.”
While Nick is quite the super athlete, he also is a pretty incredible student as well. His intent is to go to college and major in Biomedical Science and minor in Mechanical Engineering. Because of his love for cars and photography of cars, he ultimately wants to be an automotive mechanic and build race-cars.
“As a person of faith I serve God by being active in my church on a daily basis. I am a Youth Ministry Leader for Saint John Vianney Catholic Church. I mentor young kids going through confirmation and additionally I plan faith nights (mixers) for high school kids at our church.“
While Nick has many things that keep him going, he also wants to inspire others to keep moving forward too. His advice, “Keep a forward mindset even through tough times. You may have moments of weakness and self-doubt, but there is a positive road ahead and you’ll always gain something back through hard work and positivity.“