All it took was a bit of dedication and a goal.
Connor Nielson has had his disadvantages like any other teenager growing up experiencing the rigors of high school and coming into one’s own.
Nielson developed the name “Mr. Football” around Vanderhoof, a nickname that surely denotes Nielson’s passion for the game.
Football became an outlet for Nielson during his high school career at NVSS. An activity which allowed him to interact with other players, define his leadership skills and hone in on his talents that were evident from age 12 when he got his start in sports.
Claire Nielson, as any mother would, speaks highly of her son as she encourages him to be all that he can be.
“It has always been more about the team than him,” she said. “He has faith in his team.”
Nielson got his start in sports participating in the Steve Nash Basketball camp. Football didn’t come to fruition until the Nielson family moved to Vanderhoof from the Cayman Islands.
According to Claire, her son has always been “extremely accurate” in all that he does.
“Connor came into his own while at the Steve Nash camp,” said Claire. “He was a shy boy.”
Connor was the top basketball athlete during his camp days. However, after he had experienced being on a team with the opportunity to build upon camaraderie with the other players, football was in Nielson’s sights.
Nielson has spent his high school career pushing himself, as a quarterback, and his Vikings teammates on the football field toward victory.
The NVSS Vikings won provincials, which led to defeat in semi finals in overtime in 2011. Nonetheless, Nielson and the team are more excited than ever for the years ahead of them where they can prove they are the team to beat.
Nielson has had the opportunity, amongst his teammates, to benefit from the Daved Benefield Camp which has them interacting with a professional CFL athlete on their on turf.
“It was really great to work with Benefield,” said Nielson. “He’s my favourite coach.”
The camp has put the team into overdrive as each individual player has benefited from working one-on-one with Benefield, Nielson couldn’t be happier about the whole experience.
“I like how we can have fun and joke around and still be competitive,” said Nielson.
Nielson’s bags are packed as he has made way to Top Gear, a 4-day camp (July 16-19) that reached out to Nielson and nine other quarterbacks from British Columbia.
“I feel good going into this camp,” said Nielson. “This is a confidence booster and I’ll have the opportunity to work with really good athletes.”
When the camp is done, only 1 quarterback will be chosen to continue forth with benefiting from the camp.
If there is anything Nielson can take away from his football career it would be that it encouraged him to excel in school.
Nielson aspires to continue on with post-secondary at either the Florida State University (FSU) or the University of British Columbia (UBC) on the coat tails of a scholarship that requires him to keep his grade point average (GPA) above 80 per cent.
“My goal is to finish high school with a scholarship,” he said. “I would like to pursue a career in business with the opportunity to coach football.”
According to Nielson’s family and friends, football has completely changed his life.
“I’ve told his story a lot,” said Claire. “I’m so proud of Conner.”
Nielson is at the forefront of opportunity, and with the heart and determination he exudes Vanderhoof may very well have an All-Star to call its own.