Bodydbuilding.com and Athletes.com will be adding Nick as a writer in the near future. He will be sharing with you insights into a sport that he loves and trains for 100%.
I was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1975. I was one of two boys, an older brother by two years. My father Joe and mother Jan got my brother Ben and me into sports at a young age. I can remember going down to the local park or backyard to throw the football around, or any ball for that matter. Sometimes we would just run until we got tired.
My dad was a very big man, like 6-foot-2 275 lbs in his prime. He was very into sports, especially lifting weights when he was young. He began in the Navy as a teenager and eventually became Mr. Arizona, winning numerous power lifting contests. I think he entered a few bodybuilding as well.
Joe never really had the chance to play organized sports because he went to work after the Navy instead of going to college. Among other jobs; he owned a gym at one point and when he had my brother and me he was a firefighter, but still had a lot of weightlifting equipment at our house. He introduced us to weightlifting at ripe age.
Sports As A Kid
My first sports when I was a little boy were soccer and T-ball. I played soccer for a few years until I was old enough to play football. T-ball of course turned into little league baseball. My dad was our coach in football and baseball. My first memory of football was pretty funny. I wasn't old enough to play first year Pop-Warner, so I was the mascot for my brother's team.
I think I was like 7 or 8-years old at this point. I dressed out in full gear as the mascot of the team. I know that doesn't sound like that creative of a mascot and I really didn't even do anything. It was just an excuse so my dad could use me as a practice dummy.
It all paid off because in one of their games they were winning and he put me in even though I knew nothing about the rules or who does what. All I knew how to do was tackle. For some reason he put me on the offensive line and I ended up tackling the first guy I saw. Joe was amused.
I was a skinny little kid and I couldn't sit still. It was good having an older brother because we were extremely competitive in everything we played. We pushed each other in the weight room as well. I had a slender build early on, but I was fast and had athletic awareness.
In Pop-Warner I was a running back and linebacker. The highlight of my career at this age was winning the Arizona State Championship (1987). I had my first taste of track and field around this time, competing for the Arizona Striders. I ran the 100-meter dash in 12 seconds and the 400-meter dash in 58. I was 11 or 12-years old.
Junior High & High School
My family moved from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona in 1988 and I started junior high. I was introduced to new sports through school. I wrestled and played basketball for the first time and continued with football and baseball also. I did all four for two years until I attended Flagstaff High School.
I only played baseball for one season in high school and decided to focus completely on football. I was a running back and defensive back on our J.V. team. Gaining weight for me was always a problem and my dad would fix me milkshakes and make sure I didn't miss a meal. I grew a little every year and by my senior year I was 6-foot-3, 200 lbs. I played defensive end and offensive tackle. I was our M.V.P., 1st Team All-Conference, and All-State.
I started doing track and field my sophomore year in high school to stay in shape for football. I was naturally attracted to the throwing events, because there wasn't much running involved and it required the football mentality. I threw the 1.6 kilogram discus 126 feet my first year.
The following year I threw 148 feet which was good enough to win our conference meet. My senior year I won conference again and became the Arizona State Champion. I had a personal record that year of 175 feet, also the Flagstaff High School record. My farthest shot put was like 53 feet and I also triple jumped more than 42 feet.
Northern Arizona University
In the summer of 1994 I was a member of an Arizona All-Star Team that played in a tournament called the Down Under Bowl in New Zealand. The next fall I attended Northern Arizona University on a football athletic scholarship.
I redshirted in football my first year, however, in the spring I was allowed to go out for track and field. I was only able to compete in a couple meets because we had spring football. I qualified for our Big Sky Conference Championship my first meet and became the discus champion my freshmen year. The winning throw was 172'11" with the 2 kg discus.
The following year I was the starting defensive end for N.A.U. I had the privilege of playing next to my brother who was an All-American defensive tackle. One of the greatest moments in my career was hearing "Petrucci bros on the tackle." The next two years I was a starter and became one of the team captains.
A Major Setback:
I received All-Conference and All-American honors while at N.A.U. My junior year (1997) in our second-to-last game I had a devastating injury to my knee; one of the worst in college football history. I tore my ACL, FCL, LCL, IT band, lateral calf muscle, lateral hamstring muscle and fractured my leg.
I had two surgeries that took more than a year to rehab. I decided to hang up the cleats, but was training hard to make a comeback in track and field.
Returning To The Field:
In 1999 I was cleared to resume normal activity after doctors were pessimistic about my return to athletics. I went on to win my third Big Sky title in the discus after my second one in 1996. This was the first time I was only concentrating on discus.
I qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Boise, Idaho. I threw 195'5", just inches off my PR from earlier that season. I got third place behind two foreigners, so I made out as the #1 American collegiate. Later that year I got 15th place at the USA Championships.
In 2000 I finished my college career at NAU with a degree in Spanish and an emphasis in Business. I went on again to win a fourth discus Big Sky title. I finished 6th at the NCAA Championship and broke the school record with a throw of 207'10". That summer I threw a PR of 212'8". I finished 6th at the USA Olympic Trials. I was now 6-foot-5, 280 lbs after weighing 240-255 lbs through college.
In 2001 I had my best finish at USA's at fourth place. I was the alternate for the World Championships. My placing was good enough to send me to Beijing, China for the World University Games. This was a great opportunity to compete against other foreign throwers. I finished 5th with a throw of 199'. After the season I moved to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. and became a full-time resident.
| The Olympic Training Center:
The Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista is the first United States Olympic Committee training facility to be master-planned and built from the ground up, dedicated to the development of US Olympic athletes.
The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, were monumental for the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. They sent 86 athletes to Athens.
The following year was a down year for track and field, but I still had some major improvements increasing my PR to 216'5". In 2003 I finished 5th at USA's and even though they pick the team from the top three placers, I was chosen because you must throw over the (A) Standard set forth every year.
The first place finisher hadn't and I was the second man down who had the standard. Anyway, I was a member of the World Championship Team in Paris, France. The best in the world and it was my most significant opportunity. I ended up in the top 25, but didn't make the final. I was really upset with my result because I had thrown a new PR of 217'8" that summer, but couldn't consistently hold my technique. It was a major learning experience.
In 2004, my health lacked because of a back problem and after overcompensating to gain strength in my upper body I tore my peck major tendon off the bone during a bench workout. I tried getting back for the Olympic Trials, but there was no time. A few months later I had surgery to repair my peck.
On My Way Back Up
I am currently on the way back up to the top gaining strength, mental awareness and technique. Throughout my career there have been many ups and downs, but I learned from all of them and it gaven me much needed wisdom. My history and the way I was brought up have made me who I am and want to be.
In an individual sport there is so much to be learned about yourself whether it's the nutrition, health, strength, spirituality, speed, recovery, mental, technical aspect, work ethic and now one of my favorites, listening to your mind and body.
I thank Bodybuilding.com and Athletes.com for the opportunity to represent them and for supporting me in some of the critical areas athletes must have to be the best.