Recent Christopher High graduate Nolan Ciccone had quite a senior year. In addition to achieving a cumulative 4.0 GPA, Ciccone had outstanding seasons in all three sports he played in: water polo, volleyball and swimming. Even though Ciccone played tough and strong in water polo, it was in the spring sports season where he really shined.
That’s because Ciccone had to do double duty, as boys volleyball and swimming are in the same season. Ciccone was competing in the high school swim season for the first time to prepare himself for the rigors of the summer club water polo season with Manta. The spring sports season set up nicely for Ciccone, as swim practices started right after school and volleyball practices and matches went off in the evening.
“I got really lucky because I was able to do both almost everyday,” he said.
There were a couple of times during the season in which Ciccone went straight from the pool to the gym for a match, displaying a versatile athletic skill set. With volleyball being his primary sport, Ciccone didn’t miss a single match. He only missed a handful of swim meets when the volleyball team had a road match, often a far drive down south.
Ciccone was a starting outside hitter on the volleyball team and finished third on the team in kills behind standouts Ryan Duross and J.T. Zollinger. In swimming, Ciccone qualified for the Pacific Coast League Finals in the 50-and 100-yard freestyle events, with the 50 being his best event. After a typical double duty day, Ciccone was understandably exhausted.
“I would be so tired and super hungry, so I would just eat a lot and fall asleep fast,” he said. “Doing both sports was great. My highlights for volleyball was making strong connections with a lot of the guys on the team, most of whom I knew already. We got to know each other better, which was great.”
Ciccone also had a number of highlights in the swim season. Since volleyball was his primary spring sport, Ciccone wasn’t initially planning on competing in any swim meets.
“But once practice started, I really started liking it even though I didn’t think I would,” he said.
That’s because Ciccone—who has a personal-record of 24.07 seconds in the 50 free—started seeing rapid results as he brought his 50- and 100-free times down “a lot more than I imagined I would.”
Last fall, Ciccone scored his fair share of goals at the driver position. Being able to spike the ball for a kill on the volleyball court brought equal satisfaction. However, nothing can beat the feeling of absolutely stuffing an attack from the opposing player with a clean block.
“When you get a block on somebody, it makes you feel super good and kind of brings the morale of the hitter down,” he said. “So even though hitting is super cool, I think overall it’s a better feeling to get a block. Volleyball is a great team game because everyone gets excited, jumps around and screams. One of my favorite things about volleyball is how everyone is so animated and showing emotion with high fives and handshakes and getting pumped up.”
Ciccone, who will be attending San Diego State in the fall and majoring in environmental engineering, knows he’ll get a little emotional as he plays for Manta in the upcoming Junior Olympics water polo tournament. It’ll be his final go-around in an organized athletic competition, and he’s taking it rather seriously.
“We’ve got practice every morning except Sunday,” said Ciccone, who also works 30 hours a week as a lifeguard at Christopher High. “I’m excited for the tournament, but also sad because I do love the sport so much. I’ll miss all of the players and our coach (Ronnie Gautschi). But I’m also excited and looking forward toward my future, moving on in life and seeing what happens next.”