CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Nick Burd knows a thing or two about adversity. Not only does he bring a knowledge of basketball skills to his alma mater, he also knows about making the most of each day.
“They told me I’d never breathe on my own again, so everyday is a blessing."
Burd suited up for Matoaca, emerging as a basketball star for the Warriors in the early 2000′s. He attended prep school in Newport, Rhode Island, after graduating in 2004 and had Division I basketball aspirations.
“Those were the good days,” Burd recalled of his high school career. “The whole town used to have our back. It was pretty much ‘what time are you going to the game?,' not really ‘are you going to the game?’”
But everything changed in November of 2005. Burd was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. It ended his athletic career and altered his life. He turned to the same mindset he used in sports and applied that to his rehabilitation in the accident’s aftermath.
“Putting that energy towards [rehab] is what I tried to do,” he said. “Using that same ‘you can’t go left' as ‘you can’t sit up straight,’ and just using that same mentality to get myself back on the right track mentally.”
Those who cheered Nick during his high school basketball career were back in his corner again. He remembers all the calls, e-mails and donations. Some even pitched in and renovated his house. It was a community that showed up in his greatest time of need.
“That love kept me from ever feeling down or sad,” said Burd. “It kept me wanting to do better. People really wanted to see me succeed. It just helped me tremendously. I don’t even know if I thanked everyone, or could thank everyone as much as I need to for what they did for me in that time.”
His basketball playing career may be over, but the former Warrior player has now dedicated himself to teaching the sport he loves as his craft. He’s in his tenth year of coaching and last month the journey took him right where he had hoped it would. Burd is now the head coach at Matoaca, leading his alma mater.
“That was one of the best days of my life, honestly,” he said of learning he’d been hired as the varsity head coach. “Better than winning games, better than championships I’ve played in, that moment was... I’m sure (Matoaca director of student activities) Coach (Charles) Payton could hear my smile through the phone.”
“After him telling me his story, to see how he’s still going hard each and every day, he gets up every morning and just carries his day like it’s a regular day,” noted Matoaca senior forward Miles Jones.
While his playing days prematurely ended, Burd’s passion for basketball has only grown, and now he’s looking forward to helping to shape the Warriors of the present and the future.
“He motivates us everyday, continuing to push us every single time he gets us,” said Warriors' senior Tristan Cole.
“I wish I could be in your position,” Burd added about his message to his players. “I would give anything. I would cut off my left arm just to play one more game in that uniform, so I think my passion really lets them feel that.”
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.