Sims is not your average player
When Nigel Sims was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard he remembers pulling ashore after being in the Bering Sea for about four months. It was New Year's Eve and Sims was looking forward to spending the night on land. Sims' excitement was short-lived.
When Nigel Sims was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard he remembers pulling ashore after being in the Bering Sea for about four months.
It was New Year's Eve and Sims was looking forward to spending the night on land. Sims' excitement was short-lived.
He and his crew were called back out to the ocean. A Chinese fishing boat was lost at sea for a few weeks. The members on the boat went without electricity or food.
Sims and his fellow Coast Guard members found the boat and towed it to shore, a seven-hour process.
"It was a huge ordeal," Sims said. "We had to hook up the towing lines and tow this ship all the way back. You have to see how a ship operates. It's massive. If one of the lines snaps you lose arms, legs and torsos."
Sims was a rescue swimmer. His job was to wait on the side in a wet suit in case he needed to dive in the ocean. He needed to remain calm and focused.
"It's pretty intense stuff," Sims said. "There's a lot going on. Orders are being shouted. You have four or five different groups doing all sorts of things. You have a language barrier."
Sims went from serving in the Coast Guard to being a student/athlete at Dickinson State. He wanted to play for DSU head coach Scott Berry and wanted to experience living in a rural area. Sims has gone through preseason open gyms with his basketball teammates.
Even though it's a little early for the basketball season to begin, Sims is somebody the Dickinson area should know.
He's not your average college student. He's 26 years old and is married. He has a mortgage and bought his first-ever home when he moved to Dickinson.
Sims was also born in Yokohama, Japan, and moved to California when he was 11. He said he's always the only Asian American on each team he's been a member of.
When he graduated high school he didn't know what path his life was moving in so he signed on with the Coast Guard. The social science major is on inactive duty and could be called back into action if the Coast Guard needs his services.
"I felt like I was doing my part," Sims said. "I'm not saying everyone has to do it. I wasn't thinking about college. After four years in the military it helped me grow up and mature and realize I need to go to school."
In addition to serving in the Bering Sea, Sims served on a 378-foot ship called the USCG Chase. He was a 50-caliber machine gunner and operated a 25-mm cannon. He served on the Pacific side of the equator with 160 people on his boat.
Sims and his crew's main goal were to stop drug trafficking from the South American countries and bust illegal immigrants.
In both the Pacific and the Bering, Sims and his fellow Guard members rescued and patrolled fishing boats, performed deep-sea rescues and refueled fishing boats.
Sims was part of several drug busts.
"Even if you go out in the middle of the ocean your life depends on your boat and your crew," Sims said. "You have to trust they know what they're doing. That really showed me what team work was about. Each person has to know their job. It definitely taught me how to rely and to be dependable."
Sims played hoops for a community college in Seattle before coming to Dickinson. His Coast Guard experience helped him buy into the team work concept. He was a captain of his Seattle Community College team, something the Coast Guard helped Sims prepare for.
"It helps me trust people," Sims said. "When the chips are down, it helps me get through it mentally. When there's a task to complete, individually you have to complete it before everything gets done. I trust my teammates will get it done."
DSU head men's basketball coach Scott Berry believes Sims brings a unique presence to this year's team.
"What a neat young adult," Berry said. "He brings a wealth of life experiences to the team. Here's a guy who has been in the Coast Guard. He has mental discipline and he takes care of his body."
You'll find the 6-foot-4 Sims playing guard/forward when the season starts.
Sims finished last season as the second leading scorer in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges league, which consists of more than 30 teams.
He was the second leading 3-point shooter, hitting 52 percent from behind the arc and 58 percent inside. He was the fifth leading rebounder and was in the top 10 in assists and steals.
So far, DSU has been the right choice for Sims.
"I'm sitting around with 20-year-olds trying to play basketball," Sims said. "I wouldn't change anything. I've done a lot. If I would have gone to college right away I would be done. I don't regret the decision at all."
(Cindy Peterson is a staff writer at The Dickinson Press. You can contact her by e-mail at email@example.com .)