The Tucson soccer community lost a friend when Mike Nicholson passed away on Christmas Eve, 2005, after waging a courageous battle against cancer. Mike’s family is funding a TSA scholarship named in his honor. Given Mike’s long-time involvement in youth soccer in Tucson, in a variety of capacities from coach to referee, it’s clear to me and his son, Ryan, that a player scholarship would be the most meaningful way for his friends and family to remember him
Like many of us who support our kids’ involvement in soccer, Mike’s initial involvement in the late 80’s was as a coach – a somewhat reluctant volunteer who agreed to attempt to ride herd on a group of enthusiastic if somewhat undirected six year olds. He later stepped up to the challenge of refereeing youth soccer because he not only saw the need but, but by the early 90’s, had become a real fan of the game and was willing to participate on any level that would have him. I don’t know what that says about the referee community, but he enjoyed assisting with league games and later, when his son qualified as a youth referee, attending tournaments as a “ref team.”
Mike could always be counted on to step up when a real need for help presented itself – whether it was giving into to my heckling to take on a U10 team at Fort Lowell in need of a coach or providing behind-the-scenes support and assistance to his favorite novice coaches. His presence on the sidelines at his son’s games was a constant. Mike also assisted me with various volunteer duties with the Fort Lowell Shootout, from manning the phone while scheduling team volunteers to flipping burgers at the hamburger grill. He was an indispensable help to me in supporting the TSA tournament by handling the uploading of scores to the web, even though he was ill.
Mike loved soccer – watching it, playing it, coaching it. He believed that youth soccer provides kids with opportunities to learn skills they won’t get anywhere else – opportunities to work successfully as part of a group, to volunteer to help those with less and to think “outside of” one’s self, to learn to think independently in support of the larger strategy, and to see the value in working for the greater good. He would be very pleased and proud to know that a scholarship established in his memory will support a player who exemplifies the qualities that he believed are most important for our kids to develop: responsibility, personal accountability, and good citizenship.