Senior Nick Calzaretta has been playing football ever since he and his friends found Ron Patrick’s sports camp and the Pop Warner football program in elementary school. He’s also played rugby, baseball, basketball and soccer, but Nick is primarily known for his complete dominance of Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) varsity football.
This year, Nick broke the mythical MCAL rushing yard record with 2,738 yards this season, a record which had previously stood for 30 years, and he also led the Giants to their first NCS win in school history. He was named Offensive MCAL MVP in 2016 and was part of the MaxPreps 2016 All-NorCal Football Team.
But his athletic path hasn’t always been so smooth. He didn’t get to travel to nationals with his classmates’ Pop Warner team in middle school due to his weight. Also, balancing football with school work was a challenge, although he thinks he found a balance.
However, he believes that his intensive work and the inspiration with which his older brother Jeff provided him is what allowed him to succeed.
“[Jeff] had an insane work ethic so I tried to do everything I could to just follow him, and he was pretty good so that just influenced me to try and be my best,” Nick said.
Nick’s strict training regimen began the summer before eighth grade and continued into high school, and Nick considers the start of his training a turning point between being “Fat Nick,” a huskier middle-school version of himself, and the strong, fit turkey he is today.
“[The training program] was three days a week, 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. We worked out with Marines, and then I started working out at John Anderson’s gym as well,” Nick said. “Basically I would go to the military training, go to school, practice and then to John’s [gym] after. Ever since then I’ve just been training hard to get better at the sport.”
That extensive training has paid off, especially in Redwood’s win against Casa Grande in the first round of NCS playoffs this year, the first playoff game won by varsity football in Redwood history.
“[Winning] felt really good. We went in there with a lower seed, and kind of giving [Casa Grande] a whoopin’ was a good way to do it for the first time,” Nick said.
Calzaretta showed up with a strong performance when winning his first playoff game with 356 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 27 carries. Redwood then fell short to Campolindo High School in the next round, and although Nick himself had 202 rushing yards and one touchdown, the team still could not pull out a win.
“I thought we were in the game. [Campolindo] is just a really well-structured team, very well-coached. I felt we were in the game, but we didn’t play to our full potential. And we lost,” Nick said.
Nick’s powerful running style is best demonstrated with a memorable play, dubbed “That Run,” against Novato during the Redwood Homecoming game this year. The 60-yard touchdown run was named the Play of the Week by MaxPreps.
“There was nowhere to run, so I just lowered my shoulder and tried to give [the Novato defensive back] everything I had and when I hit him he was gone and I heard everyone go crazy and that was all I remember. It felt real good,” Nick said.
Beyond his impact on the field, Nick’s been an inspiration to his little brother, Joey, similar to how Jeff has been an inspiration for Nick.
“I think [the reason why Nick has stepped up as a leader] has been Jeff being the lead on Nick, and as Jeff went off, Nick took the role of being the alpha, and he looks out for me a lot,” Joey said. “Jeff would do the same where he would make sure Nick would be taken care of, and Nick takes care of me in that way because we see that we can be something great. We’re all really close and always want to help impact each other’s lives in a positive way.”
Joey also believes that the rest of his family has influenced the impressive work ethic Nick has.
“[My parents] always talked about setting goals and reaching them, and I know [Jeff] put a lot of pressure on him to do great and be something special,” Joey said. “I know at the beginning of high school Nick set out his goals on what he wanted to be, and he worked hard to get there, and now he’s got it.”
Although Nick is committed to the College of Idaho to play football, his plans haven’t always been so certain, as he received another offer from a school to play rugby.
“I really wanted to play rugby in college. I was debating between playing rugby at Cal or football at College of Idaho, and I chose College of Idaho,” Nick said.
He ultimately chose to play football due to his love for the sport, and this love is also what convinced him not to join the military immediately after high school.
“I was going to join the military until some people in my life influenced me to go to school first because the military will always be there,” Nick said. “ I want to see how far football can take me, because the military isn’t going anywhere—I can always join. But it’s definitely still in my interests.”