After an introduction to flag football through his elementary school, Nate Clay joined a Jr. All American Football team in his area and has been playing on the gridiron ever since.
“Falling in love with the sport by watching it with my dad, I decided to join,” says Clay.
Now heading into his senior year at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Clay is part of the Eagles offensive line, where he and his line mates must function as a unit to be most effective. The 18-year-old enjoys being a part of something bigger than himself.
“The unity and brotherhood, the chance at getting better,” says Clay about what football means to him, “and the future it holds, that I can be something.”
A multi-sport athlete, Clay is also part of the wrestling program at Santa Margarita, where he competes in the 285-pound heavyweight class. The two-time CIF Masters qualifier and current Trinity League champion knows that wrestling keeps him ready for his offensive line duties.
“With playing two sports…it helps me stay in shape,” says Clay. “Wrestling helps me with my flexibility.”
As a captain for the Eagles wrestling team, Clay helps lead a smaller program, and he challenges his teammates to use the adversity they face as motivation.
“Nate is an incredible individual,” says head wrestling coach at Santa Margarita, Scott Wigglesworth. “He’s the primary guy and focal point of our program. His improvement year to year is substantial, and it has definitely improved his performance on the football field as well. Nate has an incredible work ethic, and giving up is not an option. These characteristics are deeply embedded in him.”
Clay’s family has faced their own share of adversity, as his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer prior to the start of his freshman year. Clay takes the challenges he’s presented and uses them to keep things in perspective, just like his mom.
“I always tell my coaches, don’t try to treat me differently. Treat me as if everything is fine, because adversity makes a man, in my opinion,” says the 18-year old. “Every time I play a sport, I play it as if I’m not promised another day.”
The Trabuco Canyon resident is also a part of the school’s Model United Nations program, as well as the men’s choir. He hopes to continue his athletic career in college while studying either criminal justice or United States history. Sports, as well as life’s challenges, have taught Clay plenty about what is important.
“Nothing is free,” says Clay. “You have to work hard for everything you [want to] achieve.”
His parents are Clay’s two most important role models, especially his mother, whose battle with cancer has instilled in Clay exactly what it means to never give up.
“No matter what situation you’re in, you keep fighting,” says Clay. “When she keeps fighting, I keep fighting.”