WATERBURY — Nothing stops Nick Oliveira. A former student at Woodland Regional High School (Class of 2011), Oliveira used a wheel chair to navigate the steep, twisting paths to the varsity soccer fields during the four years he served as boys soccer manager. In the spring, he did the same to travel to the Hawks’ baseball field at the far end of the huge high school athletic complex. He also managed the baseball team for four years.
When the Woodland boys soccer team played at Crosby last week, Oliveira used crutches to clamber down a rugged embankment to get from the bus drop-off spot to the Bulldogs’ soccer pitch, also a long journey.
It is all in a day’s passion for the 19-year-old.
“I have cerebral palsy,” Oliveira explained. “I was born with it. It affects my fine and gross motor skills, and my overall balance. But I don’t let anything stop me. That’s the way I was brought up. There is always a way around things.
“I may have to put in some effort, but I will always be here.”
Now, when Oliveira travels with the team, or when he is on the sideline at a home game, he does not carry a scorebook, keep stats, or wrangle equipment. Oliveira is not part of the team’s support staff. He is a coach, an assistant under head coach Tony Moutinho and junior varsity coach, and Nick’s father, Izzy Oliveira.
Nick Oliveira’s role while at Woodland was nurtured by the school’s athletic department and the student-athletes, just as it is now as a volunteer assistant.
“Nick has always been passionate about sports,” Izzy Oliveira said. “Everyone at Woodland has been helpful in assisting Nick in this passion. When Nick told me that he would like to go coach and asked what he would need to do to get certified, his mom and I were absolutely thrilled that he was continuing to follow his passion.
“As far as soccer goes, Nick understands the game very well, I believe better than most adults twice his age. Nick is an asset to Tony and I, and would be an asset to any program.”
Nick Oliveira went through CIAC certification this summer, done over six sessions and two weeks. He continues his schooling at Naugatuck Valley Community College. Next he attends Quinnipiac University to study sports communications.
“My ultimate goal is to be a sports broadcaster,” Oliveira said. “I figured, what’s a better way than getting some firsthand coaching experience. It fits into my ultimate goal of what my career may be.”
A lover of the Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League, Oliveira idolizes the club’s famed manager, José Mourinho.
“Soccer is my ultimate love,” Oliveira said. “I am Portuguese, so it runs in the family.” And of his countrymen, the coach, Mourinho, Oliveira said, “He is called The Special One for a reason.”
Maybe Mourinho is a special coach, but so is Oliveira.
“I love being around the game all time,” Oliveira said. “This is a way for me to do it, and bring up the youth players as well.”