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Senior Ty Nichols has been making major headlines during his time here at Keene State College. But before firing it up on the basketball court, he’s had to overcome adversity.
Nichols didn’t have a father figure growing up due to his father passing away after being in a coma for three years due to being hit by a car. Nichols said his mom, Cindy Ferguson, is the person he looks up to and he has a great relationship with her. She said they talk every day.
After his father passed away, Nichols and his two other siblings moved to North Carolina with his mother.
“I wanted to move away from all the negativity,” Ferguson said.
Unfortunately, when they moved back to Springfield, Massachusetts, they were faced with another bump on the road—homelessness. Nichols lived in a shelter for eight months with his m other. She said she made sure he would never have to worry about their living situation, and she wanted to make sure he could experience being a kid without a worry.
“He never let that affect his school grades, life, or [his attitude] towards me and didn’t find fault in our homelessness,” Ferguson said.
Nichols wasn’t always a basketball player, first he was a football player. Ferguson signed him up at their local basketball program in Springfield to distract him from their living situation. Nichols actually didn’t like the idea of playing basketball at first.
“He would complain and make every type of excuse he could think of to not go to practice,” Ferguson said. She said it took losing three games for him to actually start liking the game, because he didn’t like to lose.
Growing up, Nichols has played for two AAU teams and played at his high school, Putnam Vocational Technical Academy.
Just like how Michael Jordan was cut off his basketball team during his high school career, when Nichols was in fifth grade he tried out for the basketball team and didn’t make it. In tenth grade, his team won the state championship thanks to Nichols making the game winning shots after he got fouled. That’s when his mother knew he had potential to do big things in the game of basketball.
During his high school years, Nichols said he brought the same energy to the team.
Nichols stills remembers his first basket here at Keene: It was Nov. 15,2015, against Green Mountain College. When Nichols came to Keene State, his first year here was the hardest for him. “
You’re on your own for the first time, it’s a new chapter in your life,” he said. He looked up to his former teammates Nate Stitchell and Nate Howard who were seniors in high school at that time. His most memorable moment on the court was during his first year, when they won the championship game against UMASS Dartmouth. Nichols had dropped 20 points that game.
Going into his sophomore year, he worked extra hard that summer to improve his game. Nichols said he had a different role that year, because his first year the team had more people that scored.
Nichols had to learn how to become a leader going into his junior year because the team was mainly younger players.
“A big thing that I’m going to take from this basketball program is how to be leader,” he said. Whether it was from helping his teammates on where to do their laundry, to going over plays after practice, he would help out in any way he could.
That same year, the team lost against Eastern Connecticut, his biggest school rival, and didn’t make it into the LECs.
“It was tough, but I knew I had another year to come back so that helped a lot,” Nichols said.
His senior year, Nichols has done nothing but excel. He broke the school scoring record, which had been held by Al Hicks for 40 years. Hicks had the record set for 2,023 points. The night Nichols broke the record, he ended the game with 2,044 overall points.
Despite having accomplished so much here, Nichols is a very humble person.
“He appreciates everything that’s been given to him, doesn’t let it go to his head, brag, he’s very humble,” Ferguson said.
When asked how Nichols stays so humble, he said, “Basketball is a team sport. Yeah, you set individual goals in the beginning of the season, but you don’t pride yourself on those. You want the team to do good, so you can’t talk too much about yourself because it’ll break up the team chemistry.”
Head coach Ryan Cain said, “He has a chance to be one of the better scorers in Division III history, so in order for somebody to break his record, we’re going to have to have one of the top 25 of 50 scorers of all time in Division III to come through our program.”
Nichols prefers playing under pressure, “You get to prove people wrong, you don’t want doubters but doubters motivate you in life so that’s what I pride myself on playing,” he said.
Nichols has accomplished all his personal goals and now wants to make it far into the NCAA tournament. His plans for after college is to hire an agent and go overseas to play.
Adriana Sanchez can be contacted