By KELLEN TANIGUCHI on May 14, 2021.
When the Crescent Heights High School class of 2021 throw caps in the air, a Vikings football player will deliver the valedictorian speech for the first time since the football club started in 1968.
Easton Nugent is the starting centre and also plays interior defensive lineman for the Vikings and excelled on and off the field at CHHS. He joined the football team in Grade 10 with the intention of being valedictorian.
“It was just personally important to me. I always try to strive and do my best in everything I do. So, it was a big deal for myself to prove to myself that anything I set out to accomplish to do, I can,” said Nugent. “Larger than that, it was just to let everyone who helped me know that the things they did for me didn’t go in vain. My parents, my coaches, my mentors, my friends, they all helped me so much and I almost wanted to do this for them.”
He adds it has been an exciting experience to know everything he’s worked toward is paying off.
Nugent says this has been one of the toughest grad years in recent memory and there have been many obstacles from online learning and potentially having to miss school because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a learning curve for so many grads. I think it is something to show that this grad class is so resilient, and we have so many people to thank for helping us along the way, but especially ourselves because we really persevered through all of this together,” he said.
Nugent was a captain on the football team, but when he wasn’t on the field, he was enjoying his musical theatre class. He performed in theatre productions from Grade 8 and throughout his time in high school. Education has always been important for Nugent and that’s something his football coach at CHHS knew from the start.
“On the first day, Easton came and told me he’s in theatre arts and he’s an academic and he’s going to do those things and if I was willing to work with him, he was more than willing to play football and I said absolutely,” said Sean Davis.
Davis says Nugent has been working toward being valedictorian from day one and he’s proud of him for being the first Vikings’ player to earn the role.
“That’s a huge accomplishment not only for our football program, but for him and we’re super proud of him and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid and a better family,” said Davis.
Nugent and the rest of the football team played in four exhibition games and had a number of practices this season. Davis says although there was no formal competition, Nugent and the team continued to show up.
“They just showed up every day and worked and it didn’t matter if we had to wait two weeks or a month between games, they just kept showing up and kept working because that’s all they knew, that’s all we do here and that’s a big part of our program,” said Davis.
Nugent is excited to deliver his big speech and the 2021 grad already has plans for the next school year. He’s going to the University of Calgary to take a five-year combined degree for a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Education.
“I just thought if that’s the type of impact my teachers and coaches have on me, I’d love to be that for someone in the future,” said Nugent.