Nick Blakely: “True Brother and Motivator”

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Nick Blakely: “True Brother and Motivator”

Portrait by Jenna Bolusky.

Portrait by Jenna Bolusky.

Portrait by Jenna Bolusky.

Portrait by Jenna Bolusky.


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The Stetson community gathered in Lee Chapel to support the family members of Nicholas Ada Blakley—both his blood relatives and his brothers on the football team—on August 31, 2017, in a memorial dedicated to celebrating his life. Nick, a sophomore student athlete, suddenly passed away that Monday night, August 28, 2017 during football practice, at 19-years-old.

“May we be thankful for the miracle of life and marvel about what it means to be human,” prayed Sensei Morris Sekiyo Sullivan, opening the ceremony. “May we be thankful for the gift of love we all share.”

As vocalist Deante Samples sang, “Give me Jesus,” Nick was described a deeply spiritual person, his love of God evident in his love for people.

Nick’s teammate and friend, Javian “J.J” Henderson characterized Nick as a “true brother and real motivator,” carrying light and humor both on and off the field. “Before practice he would ask, ‘what long sleeve are you all wearing? You know, so we could all match,’” Henderson shared.

“This outpour of support speaks to the impact Nick had on the Stetson community,” said Colin McGovern, on behalf of the football team. “On Monday night we lost a member of our football team, but also a member of our family. It’s impossible to forget and we shouldn’t try to. We have to remember him and everything that we do,” said McGovern.

Jeremiah Nails, who knew Nick for six years and decided to go to the same college together, described Nick as a supportive brother when Nails went through his own personal family loss, knowing just what to say without having to be told.

“I remember last year we got in trouble,” said Nails, describing being late and sprinting to their 6:30am practice. “We tried to slide into the stretch line, trying to be slick, but after coach saw us we were both running laps on the treadmill.” He describes Nick having a smile on his face even when times were difficult. “This year is in dedication to Nick. We have to take care of his family.”

Despite suffering from grief, the Stetson Hatters continued the rest of the football season, unrelenting, in Nick Blakely’s honor—number 37.

“He will be with us every step of the way and we must rally to finish the job he started,” said McGovern. Reassuring the team, Henderson said, “Nick is looking down on us and smiling.”

 

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