From across the pond…
4,242. 4,242 miles is just how far Nick Percy traveled to pursue his collegiate student athlete experience.
Coming from Ventnor, England, the UK native joined the University of Nebraska’s men track team in the fall of 2015 and has excelled in the program since. On the field and in the classroom, Percy has found his place to reach his high goals he set for himself. Winning the NCAA National title and the Big Ten Conference title in discus in 2016, as well as earning the All-American First team honors. That’s right, a foreigner, earned All-American honors. He has continued to earn a spot on Nebraska’s Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll since the fall of his freshman year in 2014. Percy’s achievements don’t stop there, he was named Nebraska’s Male Athlete of the Year for all sports during the school year of 2016 through 2017.
Percy has helped to lead the Nebraska men’s track team as a captain for the past year, and has not forgotten his roots to the UK as he competes for them in the summer. Percy has found a home here in Nebraska, and he is making a name for himself. He says that it may be cliché to say, but he says there really is no place like Nebraska.
He has accomplished a large amount of achievements while at Nebraska and many before joining the Huskers, earning gold in the discus at The English Schools Track and Field Championships, along with being the British youth record holder in the discus. However, he knew that to continue to rise in the sport he would have to expand his horizons and go beyond what he knew, or in Percy’s case, where he knew.
Percy was recruited by the track and field coaches at Nebraska and after seeing the facilities and campus on his visit, Percy was sold. So he packed up the bare minimal, just some clothes and bedding, and headed to the midwest to start this new journey.
The track program offered Percy help with his transition, as it does all international student athletes. The athletic department, coaches, and staff understand that there is a lot of struggle that happens when kids go to college that first year. It gets trickier when the student is from another country. Luckily, Percy said he came from a place that spoke English so that wasn’t the toughest part of the transition. However, he definitely believes that the language barrier can be one of the tougher things about being from another country.
“I think the biggest thing would be the language barrier…have to learn English the first time..i think it’s another big step…will struggle with the language….have to learn two things at once, the language and the content, in a different language,” says Percy.
Percy is one of the 744 student athletes here at Nebraska, but he’s not the only international one. Throwing teammate, Brittni Wolzyc, says that there isn’t anything like the university in Canada, which is where she’s originally from. Wolczyk chose Nebraska for many of the similar reasons Percy did; the vast number of opportunities that the University has to offer to their student athletes, on the field or in the classroom, and in life outside of athletics.
“They’ve definitely helped make it feel like this is our home now,” said Wolczyk.
From freshman seminars to a mentoring and leadership group throughout the track program called Athlete 2 Athlete, Percy was able to transition from the foreign soil to right here in Lincoln.
“I think I’ve been able to give some experiences that I’ve had so that people don’t run into the same issues themselves,” said Percy
Percy entered his fourth and final year this fall, and he continues to help other athletes from other countries to transition. He says that there are still a few words that he still says that are native to back home, but he says it’s a great icebreaker to get a conversation started.
Percy believes he chose the right school in his hopes to climb his way into the professional athletic world. It was a challenge for him to move from one country to a new one but that has been one of the best decisions for him he says. When he looks back on the decision he made to pack up and head to the midwest to pursue his college education and collegiate career, he says
“I wouldn’t change a single thing.”
Produced & written by Sarah Firestone.