Nick Gentleman | Goalball Paralympic Athlete
A Happy and Healthier Province
NickGentleman grew up in a small tight-knit community in Halifax and credits his love for sport and competitiveness to always playing sports in his neighbourhood streets.
He feels that he is fortunate to have grownup in an environment with lots of opportunities to get outside and play, his fondest memories were made living in the same community as his extended family and cousins, who were his very first teammates.
Nick was born with a rare eye condition called FEVR. Navigating his visual impairment was not always easy, he often felt he had to work harder and play harder than his peers. However, his father, who also had a love for sports, encouraged and inspired him to try his hand at basketball, and with sports in their backyard. This lit the spark for Nick, combined with his love for being outdoors and his natural competitive spirit.
When Nick joined a camp designed for youth with disabilities and an interest in athleticism, he discovered Goalball. Not only did he love the sport, but he was also a natural on his first attempt. His parents found a program where he could train, which kicked off his professional sporting career.
Goalball is a unique sport, where athletes rely solely on their hearing and sense of spacial awareness of the court.“The court, you know, it kind of tells you where you are if you know how to read it,” Nick explains. The sport offers an opportunity for the visually impaired and blind community to get out, be active and live a healthy lifestyle. Nick is heading to the 2024 Summer Paralympics Games in Paris,France; there he hopes to help give Goalball the exposure that it deserves.
Nick also shares that while people think of the Paralympics as a un event, it is equally about competition at the provincial, national and international level. “All you want to do was a win for your teammates,” he says.
It is Nick’s first year receiving funding from Support4Sport, “It was awesome that there is funding available to help athletes who don’t have six figure deals coming our way.” Nick adds in excitement, “We don’t draw the biggest crowd. We don’t make the biggest paycheques but there’s an organization who believes in us and it is a very cool feeling.”
Nick is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in recreation sports studies at the University of NewBrunswick. He believes that more young people can stay active to stay well physically and mentally. “To be involved with activities like that and have an organization like Support4Sport fund them-it just means that we’re going to have a happier and healthier province.