Nick Ossello transitions from lacrosse to football
Benjamin Padanilam | Thursday, November 12, 2015
Playing football at Notre Dame is a dream for a lot of high school student-athletes. For graduate student safety Nick Ossello, however, that dream became a reality this season.
A midfielder for the Irish lacrosse team the last four seasons, Ossello was a standout player in both football and lacrosse at Wheat Ridge High School in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, just west of Denver. Although he was recruited as a lacrosse player, he said he had always dreamed of playing football at the college level.
“I had wanted to be a football player my entire life, and after signing here to play lacrosse, I didn’t think that I would ever get that opportunity,” Ossello said. “Then, luckily enough, I was able to make the team.”
With his collegiate lacrosse career over, Ossello learned of an NCAA rule that allows graduate students to gain a fifth year of eligibility in a second sport. Having received all-state honors as a football player in high school, he decided to pursue that dream once again. After successfully walking on to the team, Ossello then began the difficult transition from lacrosse to football.
While the transition has certainly been rewarding, it has also had its challenges, Ossello said. Much like lacrosse, Ossello said the test of going up against elite college athletes — except now it is in a sport he has not played for four years — has been one of the most difficult parts of making the transition.
“Pretty much the challenge is just going up against incredible athletes every day,” Ossello said. “While I’m very appreciative of that, it does absolutely have its challenges, both mentally and physically. [It has been] challenging but the most rewarding experience I’ve had in my life.”
Fortunately, he has been blessed with the guidance of both coaches and players during the transition, Ossello said.
“The first coach that I became fairly close with here was Coach [Todd] Lyght, and he kind of helped me out in my transition,” Ossello said of the Irish secondary coach. “I would be asking him some dumb rookie questions, and he would take the time to answer them and kind of helped me through the original transition from having a lacrosse to a football mindset, and I was very appreciative of that.
“Matthias Farley [also] helped me out a lot. I knew him before coming into this year, and he was very helpful and just kind of helped me out with the transition.”
All of that hard work culminated into one moment for Ossello: running out of the tunnel against Texas to take the field for the first time.
“The first time that I ran out on the field against Texas, particularly the tunnel, that was probably the most memorable moment of my life,” Ossello said. “Running out of that tunnel was really just an incredible experience. I wish I had the words to describe what that meant to me and how that felt, but I haven’t found them yet.”
Since then, the experience has been the ride of a lifetime for him. Besides joking about getting a chance at being the starting quarterback, there isn’t much that he would change about his time with the team, Ossello said.
“I unfortunately had a couple of minor injuries that set me back a little bit, but you kind of take what you have and work with what you have,” Ossello said. “It was a very humbling experience, and I think I learned a lot. I will be very appreciative of that in the coming years.”
Of all the experiences he has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy as the season goes on, Ossello said the camaraderie with his teammates will be what he misses the most when it is all said and done.
“[I’ll miss] the locker room and just kind of watching everybody interact and just making friends and seeing how everybody — whether you’re having a bad day or whether you’re having a good day — can come in and know that the guys on the team will be there to have your back and be there to cheer you up and help you get through a long day or make a good day even better,” Ossello said. “So just being around the guys and seeing how happy, you know, just how much of a brotherhood it is really is something I’m gonna miss.”
As he prepares for life after college, however, Ossello said he has several opportunities available to him and plans to give them all a try and see how it turns out.
“I’m going through the interview process with a couple companies right now, two financial ones and then a group purchasing organization,” Ossello said. “I see myself wherever/whichever job offers me [or] whichever one makes the best offer.
“I was fortunate enough to be drafted by some professional lacrosse teams: the Denver Outlaws for outdoor and then the Georgia Swarm for indoor, so I’ll give that a shot, see how that goes, and then hopefully I’ll convince some poor woman to marry me and start a family and have a great time.”