Nelms has the goods on the field and in the classroom

The Arch­bish­op Ry­an seni­or was awar­ded All-Cath­ol­ic hon­ors on the pitch and is ranked near the top of his class.

Last week was quite a roller-coast­er ride for Kev­in Nelms. 

The Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School seni­or suffered heart­break on the soc­cer field on Oct. 25 when his Raid­ers lost in the quarterfi­nals. The fol­low­ing morn­ing, life got much bet­ter when he met one of his role mod­els, North­east nat­ive Chris Fer­guson, a NASA shuttle as­tro­naut who vis­ited Ry­an High School, his alma ma­ter.

First, the bad news. The Raid­ers’ prom­ising post­season run came to a halt on Oct. 25 when they lost to St. Joseph Prep in over­time, 3-2, dur­ing the Cath­ol­ic League quarterfi­nals.

Matt Mar­tinez and Ry­an Stevens — All-Cath­ol­ic play­ers for Ry­an — scored goals in the game. 

Tom Cugli­otta, Colin McGlynn and Matt Smith did the dam­age for St. Joseph. Smith’s goal came in the last two minutes of the first over­time, giv­ing the Hawks the win. 

“It was a tough loss at the end of the sea­son,” said Nelms, a three-time, first-team All-Cath­ol­ic play­er for the Raid­ers. “But I thought we had a pro­duct­ive sea­son. We got bet­ter as the sea­son went on. It was great hav­ing a team with such great ca­marader­ie. It was frus­trat­ing when things didn’t go our way, but that hap­pens with every team.”

With Nelms lead­ing the way as team cap­tain, the Raid­ers fin­ished the sea­son 13-4-1 over­all. They re­cor­ded five shutouts and outscored op­pon­ents by more than 40 goals.

“He’s an All-Cath­ol­ic play­er, one of our team cap­tains,” said George Todt, who has guided the Ry­an soc­cer pro­gram for 43 years. “His fath­er played for me, his broth­ers. He’s in NHS (Na­tion­al Hon­or So­ci­ety). He’s a su­perb stu­dent-ath­lete.”

Nelms has been part of Ry­an’s soc­cer team for years, but his as­so­ci­ation star­ted long be­fore he at­ten­ded the Academy Road high school.

He was on the side­lines as his older broth­ers com­peted while wear­ing Ry­an’s red and black. He also heard stor­ies of glory from his fath­er’s play­ing days. 

“I’m the last gen­er­a­tion to play for Mr. Todt,” Nelms ex­plained. “Most of my uncles and my two broth­ers played at Ry­an, and my dad. I knew Mr. Todt long be­fore I tried out for the team dur­ing fresh­man year. 

“It made the trans­ition to high school easi­er, but him know­ing me was some­times a bad thing, be­cause he was yelling at me be­fore I was even on the team,” Nelms ad­ded with a laugh. “Ry­an soc­cer is a fam­ily thing. My aunts and uncles and grand­par­ents love it. They nev­er miss a game. I’m very happy to have such an amaz­ing fam­ily. I had a choice of go­ing to an­oth­er school, but I didn’t want to break the tra­di­tion that my fam­ily has at Ry­an.”

In the classroom, he’s a mem­ber of the Na­tion­al Hon­or So­ci­ety and the Ry­an stu­dent coun­cil. In fact, thanks to his aca­dem­ic suc­cess, Nelms was se­lec­ted to meet Chris Fer­guson dur­ing the NASA as­tro­naut’s vis­it to Ry­an last week.

“He’s like a role mod­el for me,” said Nelms. “It was so in­ter­est­ing to hear him talk. He had a way about him. I can’t even ex­plain it. I look up to him so much.”

Fer­guson, a gradu­ate of Arch­bish­op Ry­an and Drexel Uni­versity, vis­ited both schools to dis­cuss his com­mand of the At­lantis mis­sion in Ju­ly, the fi­nal flight of the shuttle pro­gram. After his present­a­tion to Ry­an’s stu­dent body dur­ing an aud­it­or­i­um as­sembly, 17 stu­dents — in­clud­ing Nelms — were se­lec­ted to ac­com­pany him to Drexel Uni­versity for a pan­el dis­cus­sion of the shuttle flights. 

Nelms also is in­volved in the Fu­ture En­gin­eers Club at Arch­bish­op Ry­an. The ex­tra­cur­ricular club of­fers the stu­dents in­sights to the pro­fes­sion.

ldquo;I al­ways loved to build things. I had a cre­at­ive way to do things, and I do well in math and sci­ence,” said Nelms, who has a 4.0 grade-point av­er­age. “I thought it would be a good pro­fes­sion.

“I’m work­ing on ap­plic­a­tions for col­lege now,” he ad­ded. “I’m not com­mit­ted any­where. I’m look­ing for a good en­gin­eer­ing col­lege. I want to play soc­cer, too, but my edu­ca­tion is first.” ••

Ed­it­or Melissa Yerkov can be reached at my­

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