Coaches of Walnut: Nicholas Blackford
As both the head coach for varsity boys soccer and a computer science teacher, Nick Blackford balances his time between teaching and coaching at school. He takes this opportunity to work closely with students inside and outside the classroom and uses it to assist them beyond schoolwork.
“I really enjoy being able to form those relationships and helping out students in that way,” Blackford said. “During the season, you have to devote a lot of time, and you have to sacrifice that time. But in the end, it’s always worth it, just because [coaching is] so enjoyable and a passion.”
Blackford’s interest in soccer started as he was raised in a family that is greatly involved with the sport: his older brother played in tournaments and his father coached teams. This interest continued as he attended Los Angeles Galaxy games with family and played with friends at a young age. Although he played other sports such as football, basketball and baseball throughout his childhood, Blackford has always found that soccer comes naturally.
“It’s always been a love of mine— it’s always been a passion,” Blackford said. As a young kid, it was always just something that you can do with your friends for fun. That’s where all my closest friends were — in soccer, so that’s where I always wanted to be.”
He then played soccer as a student at Chino High School, where he played on the varsity team. Blackford also participated in the American Youth Soccer Organization. After high school, he continued playing through indoor soccer and recreational leagues. Blackford uses these past experiences in soccer to guide his coaching style now.
“Something that I always want to instill in my players is that not only can you get through it, but [that] if you’re a cohesive unit, you’re going to overcome so much more. Buying into that and persevering through that adversity is always what I’m trying to build in our team,” Blackford said. “If I could point to things I could take from when I was a youth player to now, it’s the understanding of hard work and seeing the results. That’s something I experienced as a youth, and I can point towards that as a coach.”
By Sarah Lew, Print Editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Blackford