Nick is a graduate of Simpson College, Indianola, IA. He was a member of Simpson’s wrestling team, and in his senior season, Nick wrestled the last match of his career in Wilkes-Barre, PA – the site of the 2001 Division III National Championships.
His last match? The national championship at his weight class.
His opponent? The reining national champion who had a 60-match winning streak when he faced Nick.
The winner? Nick Ackerman in a thrilling 13-11 victory.
This story is more than just a few paragraphs about an athletic accomplishment. It is a story about the human spirit. You see, Nick is a double amputee. He lost the lower half of both of his legs (bacterial meningitis) as a baby. Nick won the match wrestling on his knees.
The victory was named one of the 25 most defining moments in NCAA History (ESPN), and the Number One most dramatic NCAA Championship (NCAA Champion Magazine).
Secrets to his success?
The first is perseverance. Nick recalled, “My first two years at Simpson were met with limited victories and learning lessons, one grueling practice after another.” It would have been easy – and understandable – for a double amputee to give up after his sophomore year. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see what would have been the price of quitting: a national championship and a special place in NCAA history.
Not achieving what might have been is not the only price for quitting. There is a much greater price.
Generally, anything someone practices, he can expect to get better at. The greater price for quitting? With practice, I might become a very good quitter.
Nick didn’t quit. He persevered.
The second secret of success is how one looks at obstacles. Obstacles can be seen as dead ends or detours. Dead ends … I quit. Detour … I find another route to the same destination. We all face obstacles, but they do not have to become dead ends. An obstacle doesn’t deny success, it only delays it … if it is seen as a detour, not a dead end.
Nick turned a potential dead end into a detour.
Success in the 2011-12 school year just might be found in these two secrets: perseverance and detours.