Going ‘’Til he drops’: Titans’ two-way starting lineman Alex Nielsen a hard worker on, off fieldAlex Nielsen is full of quiet energy. The senior from New England doesn’t say much, but it doesn’t take others long to notice him either — especially on a football field.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Alex Nielsen is full of quiet energy.
The senior from New England doesn’t say much, but it doesn’t take others long to notice him either — especially on a football field.
Nielsen, a starting left guard and defensive end for Dickinson Trinity, is hoping tonight isn’t the last night of his football career as the Titans fight for a spot in the Class 2A playoffs when they host Beulah at 7 p.m. at the Biesiot Activities Center.
“It’s hard to be a leader when you’re from a different town and you come up here,” Trinity head coach Randy Gordon said.
Gordon said that hasn’t been the case for Nielsen, one of the Titans’ four team captains.
Nielsen goes about his business as simply as any football player should and said he took some early advice from his parents to heart.
“I’ve just done what my parents have always told me to do, just get in there, be as aggressive as you can and overwhelm the next guy,” Nielsen said. “I just come out as hard as I can every play and try to defeat him.”
A two-way starter and special teams player for the second straight season, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Nielsen is described by teammates as the Titans’ fastest lineman.
“We don’t really have a replacement for him,” said Titans senior linebacker and running back Lane Herberholz, one of three New England players on Trinity’s varsity. “He’s one of our best pass rushers.”
Not to mention one of the Titans’ hardest workers both on and off the field.
“Alex, he’ll go ’til he drops,” Gordon said.
Gordon, who is from New England, said the number of players the Titans get through the cooperative agreement has never been great. But, the veteran head coach said he wishes it would be because he knows there are more players out there like Nielsen and Herberholz.
“Those kids, I respect dearly because they’ve sacrificed a lot. It’s not easy,” Gordon said. “They’re the few New England kids we’ve had because they’ve persevered through it and they’re having fun because they love doing it. That’s what makes me especially proud because they’ve hung with it.”
Nielsen hasn’t just hung with it though.
A farm kid, who plans to one day join his father, Stuart, on the family farm and intends to major in a field of agricultural studies in college, is no stranger to a long day of work — even outside of the farm.
Nielsen said his dedication to sports and extracurricular activities stems from the inspiration he gets from his younger brother, Aric, who lives with mitochondrial myopathy.
“From when I was young until now, I knew he wasn’t going to be able to compete in sports and other things like that,” Nielsen said. “I always try to go out here and think, ‘What if he would have wanted to have done that.’ I try to play not only for myself but for him too.”
Nielsen competes with Trinity in three activities, football, track and field and speech. He’s also a basketball player for New England and president of the school’s FFA chapter amongst other activities.
This fall, he had to balance his FFA and football duties to such a degree that on the day he was a member of the New England’s state runner-up range judging team, he had to hurry back from Gackle, in southeast part of the state, for Trinity’s football game against Rugby.
“We had to run all the way to Gackle on Thursday and had a contest Friday morning and my dad came up and picked me up in Gackle and drove me all the way back to Dickinson for the football game that we had,” Nielsen said.
Gordon said it’s easy to respect a player like Nielsen, who puts in all the time on the field and much more elsewhere.
“He makes time for all that stuff where some kids don’t,” Gordon said. “They don’t all do that.”