Woodland grad overcomes obstacles for love of the game

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Woodland Regional High School graduate Nicholas Olivera makes his way to the stage to receive his diploma during graduation ceremonies Wednesday at the school in Beacon Falls. –RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — Nicholas Oliveira finds alternative ways to become involved and channel his love of the game.

The 18-year-old senior at Woodland Regional High School was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 1 year old. It’s a disability that affects his balance and fine and gross motor skills.

Oliveira, who uses a wheelchair, has served all four years at Woodland as manager of the boys soccer and baseball teams. He said his plan after college is to be a play-by-play sports broadcaster.

“Woodland’s been great,” said Oliveira, inside the school’s air-conditioned gymnasium waiting for graduation to begin. “It’s just taught me to always believe in yourself and keep going.”

Oliveira joined 184 graduates to accept their diplomas Wednesday evening outside in the more than 90-degree weather during the commencement of the Class of 2012. The school is in Region 16, which serves Beacon Falls and Prospect schools.

Oliveira, who lives in Beacon Falls, said he will attend Naugatuck Valley Community College with the intent to transfer to Quinnipiac University to study broadcasting. He said he has always loved sports, especially soccer and baseball.

He said as manager of the school’s boys soccer and baseball teams, it allowed him to get involved in the game more and stay up on all the stats. Oliveira said he imagines himself all the time on the field with the boys, playing the game.

“But for me, it’s all about finding alternative ways for getting involved and channel my love for the game,” Oliveira said.

Obstacles he faced included sometimes having to have tests blown up to make it easier for him to see or needing a scribe to write for him. Also, before he goes somewhere, he has to make sure it’s handicapped-accessible.

He said he never second guesses himself.

“Because I believe if you follow your heart, it will always be the right decision,” Oliveira said.

His parents, Wendy and Izzy Oliveira, joined up with their son inside the gym before graduation. Wendy Oliveira, who serves on the Region 16 Board of Education, said their son is determined, and has a strong will and spirit.

“He has had a lot of obstacles to overcome and he’s met each and every challenge,” she said. “He’s exceeded all our expectations. He got involved, manager of the soccer team, manager of the baseball team. He fought for what he wanted.”