Sport brought out the best in him 

By Barbara Black

When the Athletic Awards were held in April, one athlete with special qualities was asked to give a valedictory farewell.

In a speech laced with jokes, Nick Scissons recalled the high points of his years as a receiver on the Stingers football team. However, he’s had more than his share of trouble, and credits football with keeping him on track. His story has been told by The Gazette and on the Athletics website. It’s worth telling again.

Nick Scissons gives his farewell speech at the Athletic Awards banquet. Magnifying glass

Nick Scissons gives his farewell speech at the Athletic Awards banquet.

Scissons grew up in Ottawa with his mother and an older brother and sister. His father was an alcoholic who wasn’t around much. Shauna Scissons worked hard and saw to it that her family didn’t live in poverty, but Nick was troubled. He travelled the world, trying to find himself, and had some desperate times. He was robbed in Guatemala, and shovelled garbage in the Sydney dump with other homeless men. When he came home, he decided to go to Concordia and return to football.

“Football has always been my anchor,” he told the Athletics staff. “I’ve always loved being on a team and having friends on a team. I’ve also always appreciated the guidance of a coach.”

He attended few classes in his first year, but being put on academic probation woke him up. He started paying attention to his lectures, and found he liked it. His GPA rose to 3.0 in his major, history.

“Studying history is a neat way of knowing what’s going to happen next,” he said.

He also started doing volunteer work with Sun Youth and with teenagers at AIDS Community Care Montreal. In his high school days he had been a volunteer at the homeless shelter in Ottawa where his father was living.

Then he suffered another blow. Shauna Scissons died of lung cancer in January 2007 at the age of 53. Nick continued his full course load and the Stingers winter workouts while visiting her in Ottawa during her last months.

He had “a bad summer,” but pulled out of it. “I decided I didn’t want to just be sad any more. I wanted to do something constructive to honour my mother.” He got involved in the DeFacto program, which takes an anti-smoking message to youth.

Scissons is still fond of travel, but it was football that was his salvation. “It grounds me. It keeps me sane and it brought me to university.”

He finished school in December and is now working for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.


Concordia University