Some sports become a way of life for some athletes and help shape them into a better people off the field or court.
Soccer has done that for DuBois senior Nolan Bussell.
The Beaver has played soccer for most of his life and first stepped on a pitch when he was four years old at Spider Lake and competed in the travel program there. His love of the game grew exponentially from there and he continued to play the game at all levels.
Bussell began playing club soccer at age 10, traveling to Pittsburgh for training and games while attending national level tournaments. In Pittsburgh, he played for Century North, Hotspurs, Northern Steel and Arsenal. I also participated in ODP (Olympic Development program).
At the high school level, Bussell proved to be an impact player for DuBois all four years at the varsity level.
He was named the team’s Rookie of the Year as a freshman and took home Most Memorable Goal and Golden Boot as a sophomore. He collected the Beavers’ Players Choice Award and Offensive MVP in both his junior and senior campaigns.
Bussell netted 37 goals and had 18 assists during his Beavers’ career and helped DuBois capture the District 9 Class 3A title his sophomore season.
“To play soccer you have to fully integrate all parts of your body,” said the Beaver. “It also requires a special awareness and anticipation of where you are and where you need to be, and you have to make very quick adjustments and choices. You have to be technically and tactically aware.
“For me, I enjoy the mental aspect of the game as much as the physical aspect. I love that no two games are the same. You can’t go into a game thinking you know how it’s going to go. Anything can happen. One team is going to win on any given day and one is going to lose. So many factors go into it.
“Each team I play gives me a new perspective on how I play or how I need to play. I love the diversity of the sport. It is universal and enjoyed around the world. I love the community that surrounds soccer. I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit and meet players from all over. I’ve made a lot of good friendships through soccer. It’s great to reconnect at different tournaments and camps around our part of the country.”
His career is far over in the sport though, as he recently fulfilled his dream of playing college soccer when he signed his national letter of intent to play for Division II Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. He plans to study environmental science.
Bussell’s journey to get to this point wasn’t always easy — whether it was trying times in all the leagues and clubs he played for or the recruiting process late in high school. And, he has a message for younger players who may experience some of the ups and downs he did when trying to achieve the same dream.
“I guess I just want to tell all the younger athletes out there to keep working and keep your eye on your goals,” said Bussell. “I wasn’t always on winning teams (at all levels), and some seasons were very tough. I sometimes worried that I wouldn’t get to realize my dream.
“I played in positions I didn’t really enjoy, for the good of the team, and I worked with teammates who weren’t really glad I was there. I was coached by coaches I didn’t understand or didn’t have the best rapport with.
“I had to tryout for teams and go to camps where I didn’t know anyone. I had to compete and win playing time from extremely talented players. I was turned down by some college coaches. It’s hard to hear you’re not someone’s first pick.
“Sometimes I got in my own way, and my mind got the best of me. But, I persevered. I play soccer because I love it. It’s something I just have to do. I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life. I would encourage younger players to keep playing the game. and play because you love it.”
Bussell said he doesn’t have just one greatest moment from his time on the soccer field.
“Scoring goals in the last seconds of games we were losing is one of the best feelings ever,” he said. “Once you accomplish that, it’s a rush you want again and again.
“Winning the Indiana tournament for the first time in our school’s history was a great accomplishment and one our team is very proud of. I am happy to have been a part of that. Going to states my sophomore year felt like a dream, and that whole section of time felt surreal to me. We were on a roll. And of course, scoring the winning goal in what ended up being my last high school game is a memory I will never forget.
“I feel honored to have been coached by Coach (Matt) Erickson and Coach (David) Rupprecht during my high school career. They were always there to motivate and support us when we needed it and light a fire under us when necessary. I was blessed to be surrounded by talented players that make up the DAHS soccer family.”
Bussell expanded his athletic career as a senior and joined the DuBois football team in the fall and served as the team’s kicker when he wasn’t playing soccer. Bussell earned a varsity letter and made 7 of 8 extra points he attempted. He also earned the All-Academic Silver Team Award.
“I had a blast,” said Bussell about his venture into football. “It was a great experience for me and very different from soccer.”
As for why he plays sports in general, the Beaver said they help keep him sane.
“I don’t like down time or boredom,” said Bussell. “Staying on a schedule is how I thrive. I love to be active, and I like to stay in shape. I think sports have helped prepare me for life because they have helped me learn time management, how to balance my time between school, sports, work, social life, family, etc.
“I’ve learned how to take criticism and instruction, how to work with others (both those you get along with and those you don’t). I’ve also learned how to handle loss and disappointment.
“It has taught me how to work very hard for something that is important to me, how to reach goals and the camaraderie of being with my teammates. I love the fans who support us. It’s a great feeling to have people share in your successes.”
Outside of sports, Bussell enjoys spending time in nature camping, fishing, hiking and taking photos. He also enjoys giving back to the community and shares his love of soccer with the area youth by volunteering as a coach at Spider Lake and officiating games when his schedule allows. He also has coached a Special Olympics team.
The son of Jon and Terah McLaughlin, Bussell has an older sister Teah who competed in soccer, swimming and track in high school and two younger brothers — Nakai and Liam. Nakai is a sophomore who played soccer alongside his brother with the Beavers, while Liam plays soccer at Spider Lake.