Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sports Person of the Week

Nelson Led the Line for the Easties

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Senior captain Calvin Nelson was a force in trenches for the East Haven football squad. Calvin earned a spot on the All-SCC Tier 3 team as a defensive lineman in his senior season. Photo courtesy of Calvin Nelson

Senior captain Calvin Nelson was a force in trenches for the East Haven football squad. Calvin earned a spot on the All-SCC Tier 3 team as a defensive lineman in his senior season. (Photo courtesy of Calvin Nelson )

Calvin Nelson was one of four senior captains who led the East Haven football team in 2019, and he proved a huge influence in the Yellowjackets’ success in the win-loss column. While Calvin had a big impact on the squad, he says that competing for the Easties also played a major role in shaping him as a person.

“It was a great four years. I can truly say I enjoyed my four years of football, because it was such a good brotherhood,” says Calvin. “Overall, it brought me to who I am today.”

Calvin loved leading East Haven into battle as a captain. He prided himself on being a vocal leader who pushed everyone’s intensity level to the max. Calvin helped the Easties post a record of 7-3 in each of the last two seasons.

“I like to make sure everybody can understand and hear what I’m saying, so they can feel the emotion that I’m feeling,” Calvin says. “If I can get my teammates up to the same emotion that I am, everyone will pick up the pace. I like to make sure I can set the pace for my team.”

Calvin played on the Yellowjackets’ offensive and defensive lines since his sophomore year. He started as an offensive guard and was a nose tackle on defense.

Calvin got his first taste of football while growing up in South Carolina. Calvin was a quarterback at the beginning of his career, but made a quick transition to the trenches after moving up north.

“When I moved to Connecticut, I started putting on some weight and switched inside. I’m very happy with it,” says Calvin. “It wasn’t much of a transition, because I liked it more. I liked how I could be physical. It put more pep in my step.”

Calvin was a force on both sides of the line. He wound up earning All-SCC Tier 3 honors for his performance as a defensive lineman as a senior.

“I take it humbly, but I think I should have done more,” Calvin says. “It’s a good thing for my family, and the banquets are always fun. It’s a proud moment to go around and share with my family and close friends.”

Calvin likes playing on the defensive line, because he has the freedom to fly around the field and make plays. As much fun as that is, Calvin also enjoys the structure that comes with being an offensive lineman.

“I use my hands a lot better now. I’m also quicker on my feet and have better footwork than I used to,” says Calvin, who is a thrower for East Haven’s indoor and outdoor track squads. “I’ve added more muscle and developed well. The coaching staff helped me become more technical, which has helped me.”

East Haven ran for more than 2,000 yards as a team last year, and that stat means a lot to Calvin. It always brought a smile to Calvin’s face when he saw the Yellowjackets’ backs break off big runs.

“We take so much pride in that,” Calvin says. “We love to be physical, and for us to be more physical against people we don’t know makes it all that much better. We buckle down and do what we have to do to give our backs creases.”

Head Coach Scott Benoit was impressed with Calvin’s overall athletic ability. After playing at 265 pounds as a junior, Calvin trimmed down to 245 pounds for his senior season, and that was a big plus for the Easties.

“Calvin cut weight, which was good for him from a conditioning standpoint,” says Benoit. “Calvin was a very good leader for our team, and he’s a very good athlete. He can do a lot of things. He was tremendous for us.”

Calvin says that losing those pounds helped him gain an advantage over his opponents.

“In many ways, taking the weight off allowed me to understand how fast I could be as a player,” Calvin says. “It opened my eyes and allowed me to bend quicker on both the offensive and defensive lines. It also helped a lot with my energy and stamina.”

Even though his high school career has come to a close, Calvin isn’t ready to stop playing football. Calvin is planning on playing at a community college before seeking a transfer to a bigger school.

“I want to continue to play football. At this point, it’s a big part of me,” says Calvin. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m looking to play a lot more football.”


PJ Foti covers sports for East Haven and North Branford for Zip06. Email PJ at pj.foti@shorepublishing.com.

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