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  • By Colin Anderson

Athletes of the Month: Nolan Casey & Brenden Rivera

Peninsula High School Nolan Casey

Photo by Now a senior starter on the Peninsula High School football team, it almost didn’t happen for Nolan Casey. During his sophomore year, Nolan recalls the challenges of playing against competitors much bigger than him. It was such a grind that he nearly gave up. “I thought of quitting, but my coach talked to me and convinced me that quitting would be a mistake. Let’s just say, coach was right,” he said.

Nolan’s junior year he became a starter at inside linebacker and is doing so again his senior season. He is also one of the team captains, proving that overcoming doubt is something anyone can achieve. Leading his teammates through the triumphs and tribulations is something he truly enjoys. “As cheesy as it sounds, we really are brothers. We may not always like each other all the time, but we all have that brotherly love that makes us who we are,” he said.

While Nolan excels on the football field, it’s on the wrestling mat where his abilities really stand out. He’s a four-year starter, placed 4th in state his sophomore year, 3rd his junior year, and will be chasing a state championship later this fall. “Some of my closest friends are on the team, but the challenge of wrestling is like nothing else. In no other sport can you beat up a kid and be cheered on the whole time,” he said.

Nolan works equally as hard in the classroom, finishing out his junior year with a 3.9 grade point average. He is currently considering a few schools and whether to further his wrestling career in the college ranks. He also already has a plan for what he’d like to do in his professional career. “I want to be an occupational therapist. This is because I enjoy helping others and thinking outside the box. Occupational therapy would set me up for just that.”

Through his many experiences Nolan says one of the biggest life lessons he’s learned is to enjoy the opportunity he’s been given and make a memory today and not wait for tomorrow.

Gig Harbor High School Brenden Rivera

Photo by Paul Caldwell

Brenden Rivera isn’t afraid of a little extra hard work. The Gig Harbor High School senior proves it as a first team all-league offensive lineman to go alongside a 3.8 GPA. He’s also part of the track team in the spring. Brenden has learned early in life that it takes that extra work to be successful in whatever you do.

“One life lesson I’ve from coaches is that the process is greater than the product, and what I mean by that is the process, which is studying film, lifting weights and practicing, is more important than the product, which is a game,” he said.

Brenden is currently taking College in the High School classes as well as Advanced Placement classes and is looking to continue playing football at a four-year university after he graduates in the spring.

“I am interested in science and technology because I enjoy understanding how things work and solving equations, and I’m interested in Spanish because it’s a part of my culture and something that I enjoy,” he said.

While graduation is not far off, Brenden continues to focus on the season at hand and working side by side with his teammates each week. “My favorite part about football is the team aspect. Going to battle with your teammates every Friday night isn’t like anything else in the world. Everyone on the team has a role and does that role to the best of their ability,” said Brenden.

While not every play runs like it’s drawn up and not every game ends with a victory, Brenden says his team is focused on playing together and supporting each other as long as everyone puts forth their best effort. “Mistakes will be made, but as long as you know you gave it your all every play, you won’t let your teammates down.”

As he looks to pursue football at the next level, Brenden knows that he’ll need to continue to keep up his strong work ethic to achieve his goals. “At the end of the day there’s always someone working harder than you, so you need to outwork them,” he said.

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