Nikholas Hackett is a 16 year old Academy athlete from Riverdale, Georgia. Only a sophomore, Nikholas stands at 6’1” and weighs 176 pounds. What makes this young defensive end stand out from other athletes is that he is autistic. At the age of 1 he was diagnosed, where doctors told his parents that he would need constant care and may never be able to be self sufficient. He has proved them wrong time and time again.
Nick began playing football at the age of 9 and as a young athlete he proved to everyone he belonged on the field by winning Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and competing on top tier youth teams in the state. Nick left football for a short stint to try out basketball, played AAU ball and had a good run at it. The sudden passing of his older brother reinvigorated his passion for football setting the stage for what he hopes is a long career in the sport.
As a freshman in high school, Nick started on Varsity and ended the season with 15 sacks, 62 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and 1 blocked punt. Nick’s high school teammates promoted him to captain because he proved himself to be a leader both on and off the field. In fact, in 2018 NIch won the Georgia State Champion in Taekwondo for 15-17 year olds. His parents and twin sister are Nicks biggest supporters and are willing to make sacrifices to see him succeed. Nick role model is JJ Watt because he never gives up on the field and supports those in need off the field.
Nick will always remember his time at the Academy. He came in knowing only two other athletes and left with new friends and the respect of coaches. Nick learned so much from the PFHOF coaching staff. His father, Felix found the seminars and parent meetings educational.. They are planning on coming back next year to gain more experience and exposure as Nick works to earn a college scholarship. We’ll see you soon Nick!