Sweet dreams: Central Catholic kicker taking his craft to UNH

Bill Burt, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·5 min read

Apr. 1—Central Catholic coach Chuck Adamopoulos claims a few days before their playoff game with Everett High, on Nov. 2, 2018, he was talking to one of his assistants at practice.

He brought up his sophomore-then kicker.

Adamopoulos said: "I had a dream last night that our kicker, whose father (Steven Mazzie) is the police chief of Everett, is going to win the game at the end, beating Everett in Everett."

Per the dream scenario, Adamopoulos sent out said kicker, Nick Mazzie, with the score 20-20 against undefeated Everett High with 57 seconds remaining.

That was one dream. Another, kicking in college, came a little later.

Nearly 2 1/2 years ago, Mazzie, a scrawny, 5-foot-11, 165-pounder, booted a 33-yard field to beat state title favorite Everett High, 23-20, in the Div. 1 North semifinals.

It wasn't just the fact that Central beat perennial superpower Everett, in Everett, but Mazzie's dad is the Chief of Police there.

"I was on top of the world. Best day of my life," recalled Mazzie.

Mazzie, who resides in Boxford, finished that season making six of nine field goals and 35 of 38 extra points — a true weapon.

A few months later, he went to a big-time kicker's camp at IMG in Bradenton, Fla. and left there ranked as the 30th kicker in the country.

Then the roof started caving in.

A fracture in his back in April of his sophomore lacrosse season put him on the shelf, resting for four months figuring that would work.

It didn't.

Then he tried lasering, cupping and acupuncture. He tried sitting, walking, jumping and running.

Again, the pain was still there as his junior season started and really never went away.

It basically killed what was supposed to be a career junior year, which was to include him punting. But he was in too much pain doing that so he only kicked.

His numbers were pretty good, hitting four of seven field goals and 34 of 37 extra points.

"It just wasn't the same, his follow through, the explosion off his foot," said Adamopoulos. "What impressed me most was the fact he made four tackles, all good hits, with a sore back, when some returners got past the rest of our kids. He probably shouldn't have, but he's a tough kid."

At least, he rationalized, he had his senior year, which is when most football players commit to schools.

Mazzie's back finally got better with rest and over the summer of 2020, he was in the best shape of his life.

There was one, big problem. The pandemic hung around longer than had been hoped and killed the fall sports season.

Good-bye any chance at scholarships and maybe offers.

Despite all camps being cancelled, Mazzie put together videos of his personal workouts, including one in which he boomed three consecutive kicks of 50 yards through the middle of the uprights.

Some colleges saw his videos and the offers started coming in, including Merrimack, now a Div. 1 school, St. Anselm (Div. 2) and Union (Div. 3).

He was hoping for higher profile schools that can play in the postseason NCAA tournaments.

That's where Mazzie's only sister, Gabriella, two years older, now a Marist College sophomore, chimed in.

"She said 'Why don't you look at UNH?' " recalled Mazzie. "She was right. I don't know why I hadn't. I ended up talking to Coach Adamopoulos, who said he has a great relationship with coach (Sean) McDonnell. A lot of Central players had gone there, including two now (QB Bret Edwards and center Osho Omoyeni)."

After some negotiating, UNH offered Mazzie a spot on the roster, the only one offered to a kicker for the 2022 season.

Adamopoulos said he told McDonnell, "I think you stole this one. I think Nick is going to be great for you."

"Nick is special in a lot of ways with his power, his kickoffs reach the end zone, his accuracy," said Adamopoulos. "But the best part is his confidence. He isn't afraid of the moment. That's why he made that kick against Everett. That's why, I believe, he's going to be great at the next level."

In three games thus far, healthier and bigger than ever (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), he has easily made two both of his field goal attempts and 10 of 11 extra points.

Other than one night and one particular kick in Everett about 29 months ago, Mazzie has never been happier.

"I've never felt this good and this strong," said Mazzie. "Every part of my game has improved. This is what I've been working for. There is still work here to do. We have a great team. I just have to be ready ... you never know when you're going to have a big kick."

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Football over soccer

Nick Mazzie played football and soccer at an early age, oftentimes getting rides back and forth to practices and games beginning in fifth grade.

While he was pretty good at both, playing several positions as a football player, he was attracted to kicking early on.

"I liked soccer and football about the same when I first started playing them," said Mazzie, whose mom Katrina, is a Mass. State Trooper. "I was pretty good at soccer. But there was something about football. Kicking is not a big thing in youth football, but it was for me.

"I loved kicking, which I first learned in soccer," said Mazzie. "Not many kids could do it. As I got older and older, I started realizing, I might be able to play his someday in college. And it's going to happen."