Checking in with local athletes amid COVID-19: Josh Nixon

By: 
Seth Kinker
Sports Editor

Sports are on hold around the country as COVID-19 is being addressed. In the upcoming weeks, The Community Post will be checking in with local athletes and coaches that continued their athletic careers after high school and how COVID-19 is effecting them in their respective sport. 

This week, The Community Post caught up with Minster graduate Josh Nixon. Nixon was a three sport athlete for the Wildcats and after playing baseball for the University of Dayton for the past three years, will be  pursuing his MBA at Ashland University and getting back into football.

Nixon is Minster’s all-time leader in career pass completions with 566, career passing yards with 8,415 and career passing touchdowns with 87 as a three-year starter for the Wildcats -- leading them to a state title in 2014. In his senior season, Nixon passed for 2,039 yards on 149-of-260 passing for 22 touchdowns and five interceptions to make him a First-Team All-Ohio selection.

Dayton 

Nixon was a three-sport athlete for the Minster Wildcats graduating in 2015. He starred in football, basketball and baseball but football and baseball were his top two sports. 

Schools began to recruit him in high school for multiple sports but he leaned towards baseball because that’s what he told himself he had always wanted to do. 

Ashland University, who he accepted the offer from on Apr. 9, was one of the initial teams that showed interest in him for football but Nixon was focused on the baseball offers. 

During his senior year of high school, Nixon was still uncommitted and looking for a home. He had an offer from Hillsdale, a private conservative college in Michigan, and was close to taking it but wanted to see what was out there for him as far as division one opportunities. 

Nixon attended a camp at Dayton that went well. After the coach at that time took notice and some back and forth dialogue, Nixon was offered a roster spot. 

“From there, the decision was easy,” said Nixon. “I loved Dayton’s campus when I visited and I’ve loved it for the past three and a half years, I had a blast. Dayton was a great choice for me and I’m glad that I got my chance to play baseball and get my education there.”

Before this season began, Nixon was cut from the squad but asked to stay on and help as a coach. 

A new coach took over after his sophomore year and saw the value Nixon brought to the team and asked him if he would coach this year. 

During games, Nixon would be one of a few responsible for the bull pen that would report back to the dugout when they needed to call another pitcher into the game. 

“Personally, I tried to keep young guys in check,” said Nixon of his off the field role. “Shaping them and showing them what Dayton baseball was and trying to accomplish various stuff with winning the A10 and going forward. It was an interesting switch, literally one week I was a division one baseball player and the next week I was a division one coach. That was kind of weird, a quick transition, but I really only got in a month and a half because of the COVID-19 stuff.”

Last October, however, when Nixon was still playing baseball, the idea began to ferment in his mind that after the upcoming season he might want to go play football somewhere. 

COVID-19

During the week of Mar. 9, when high school sports and professional sports began to feel the effects of COVID-19, things evolved quickly for Nixon. 

He remembers waking up and seeing Ohio State had suspended their spring classes as a result of COVID-19. 

“I thought that was crazy,” said Nixon. “I didn’t think COVID outbreak was that bad.”

That night, Dayton suspended their classes and the baseball team’s weekend series with Ball State was canceled. 

The next day, the team was still practicing as students began to leave campus. The following day, Nixon told The Community Post he remembers watching one of their pitchers throws in the bullpen before checking his phone. 

“I see the tweet from NCAA that spring sports were canceled and I’m just like, ‘wow that is absolutely nuts,’” said Nixon. “I kind of kept that to myself because a lot of the guys were taking batting practice at the time. I didn’t know what was going on yet but I was heart broken and felt bad for those guys specifically because they were still playing, especially those seniors.” 

“Coach brought us in the locker room and told us everything that was going on. Surreal feeling, lots of tears. Just a lot of questions,” added Nixon. “We didn’t know if guys would get eligibility back, stuff like that. It was probably the last time that group of guys would be in the same room together just because some people have to make various life decisions. It was tough, it all happened so quick and I was just kind of in shock in all of it. It was a matter of three days and my whole life was turned upside down.”

Nixon wanted to spend as much time with his teammates and friends that were still on campus and stayed an extra three days after the season was canceled.

“After that,” said Nixon. “it was coming home and kind of, where is my life at right now?” 

After reaching out to around 40 schools in October, Nixon had received an offer from Ashland in December and accepted it on Apr. 9 but the cancelation of spring sports threw a wrench in his plans. 

Nixon had a job at Dayton with field maintenance for the athletic department that would’ve helped him pay for school at Ashland that now wasn’t an option. He also had another job lined up for the summer that said they wouldn’t be able to hire him as a result of the pandemic. With both options now off the table, Nixon was in reset mode to find his best options moving forward.

Ashland

With no recent football experience to showcase save for an intramural flag football championship with some baseball teammates, Nixon compiled highlights from HUDL of his junior and senior years. 

Nixon also wanted to showcase his abilities in person but was prevented from doing so as student at another school playing another sport per NCAA rules. 

“I kind of had to sell them on the fact, ‘hey I know I haven’t played in four years,’” said Nixon. “Right now, it’s a tentative scholarship thing. They said ‘hey you haven’t played in four years, we like you, you’re a great guy. We like the HUDL highlights, but you’re going to have to get back into the groove of things,’” 

His decision also hinged on eligibility differences at the division one, two and three levels of competition. 

If Nixon were to transfer to a division one school, he would only have had one year of eligibility. Division two, however, does eligibility by semester so Nixon will have two seasons of football as a part time student in the spring and summer while earning his MBA. 

“That definitely shifted my attention to division two schools or division three schools. Division three schools had the problem of not being able to offer any scholarship whatsoever,” said Nixon. “I loved the MBA program at Ashland, the school, the campus. Everything just kind of fit for it.”

Ashland was one of the schools that reached out to Nixon back in early October, he visited the campus in November, kept in contact with quarterbacks coach Tom Stacy and he was offered a roster spot in December. 

“That whole process was just a bunch of back and forth, figuring out how it would all work,” said Nixon. “For one thing, I won’t be able to participate in spring ball in 2021, because I won’t be a full-time student but it all works out that I’ll get two seasons for sure then do online classes to get my MBA while working full time at Side Effects.” 

With COVID-19 effecting how he was planning to pay for school, Nixon said he didn’t think Ashland was going to work out. 

Nixon applied for a variety of different jobs and eventually was connected with Side Effects out of Dayton. Side Effects forms relationships with local athletic directors and advertisers, selling the idea of getting scoreboards, scorers tables and various other types of equipment that help make an athletic department run. 

It worked perfectly with what he planned to do, offering him a full-time job with the flexibility to work part time while at Ashland playing football in the fall. 

“It’s perfect,” said Nixon on Apr. 11, who will graduate with his marketing degree in May from Dayton before going after his MBA at Ashland. “It’s helping me pay for stuff at Ashland and giving me good experience in the business. A week and a half ago, I’d say I wasn’t going to go to Ashland.”

Nixon told The Community Post that the itch to play football again came during his sophomore year of college when he started playing intramural flag football with his roommates. 

He credits his decision to pursue getting back into football to his dad, Tim and a drive that occurred last September while he was driving home to Minster from Dayton. 

“I saw a few guys throwing routes at Troy Christian off of I-75,” said Nixon. “they were just throwing routes to each other and I told myself, ‘damn I kind of miss that.’ I get home about 40 minutes later and within ten minutes of being home, my dad kind of throws out the idea, ‘hey have you ever thought about trying to play football next year?’ I said, ‘huh, I was just thinking a little bit about that on my drive home.’ So that’s when I said, ‘hey let’s see if it’s a possibility, let’s see if anyone would be interested.’

Nixon had a lot of interest from Ohio Northern and Tiffin but said Ashland showed the most. After visiting campus in November, he liked the program and knew it was a great place to be and to develop. 

“I definitely can attribute this to my dad kind of getting me kick started on seeing if this could all work out,” added Nixon.” 

In addition to being offered the roster spot, if Nixon proves himself to become the backup or starting quarterback, Ashland told him they’d offer a scholarship. 

Summer workouts are planned but that’s up in the air with the timeline being questionable with COVID-19 and camp in the fall takes place just two and a half weeks before the season starts. 

“It’s something I feel confident in, that I’ll be able to make it all work and get back into the groove of things,” said Nixon. “Right now, I don’t have much to do so I’ve been working on football drills and stuff like that, three to four times a week. Throwing routes to some old HS guys, getting back into the groove of actually throwing the football. I’m ready for that challenge and know I’ll be able to do it.” 

While waiting on a playbook and workouts to be sent to him, Nixon has been working out with his two younger brothers, Justin and Johnny, who are both athletes at Minster themselves. 

“They’re not playing spring sports right now and I’m trying to keep them in shape as well,” said Nixon. “Lifting four days a week with what we have, basketball work with Justin because he's a big basketball guy. Johnny, my youngest brother, a sophomore, is trying to be Minster’s quarterback next year. I’ve been doing quarterback drills with him, getting work in myself as well. Doing baseball stuff with both of them, batting practice, catching bullpens for them, it’s been a combination. I’m working out in three different sports right now because I’m trying to keep them in shape in three sports too. Once I get the playbook and workout stuff from Ashland I’ll be digging into that.” 

Nixon will be starting his full-time job with Side Effects soon that will take up a lot of his time but he’s passed the time during quarantine so far with Netflix and Tik Tok, noting that he finished the new series Tiger King in just a couple of days.  

Getting back into the swing of things with football has Nixon excited once again. 

“Throwing routes in the last month or so,” said Nixon. “Getting one that comes off the arm right, firm and a great ball...in my mind it’s like, ‘damn that was fun.’”