Two football worlds – one high school, one collegiate – collided Sunday night on the 50-yard-line at San Clemente High, where friends, family members and fans of Nick Pasquale gathered to mourn his untimely passing.
A red-shirted freshman last year who expected to see play this season at UCLA, Pasquale came home to San Clemente this weekend as the Bruins had a bye. He spent his time catching up with friends and cheering on his alma mater, the Tritons.
Walking home early Sunday morning after a party, he was struck by a car and killed.
Just like that, he was gone.
“I’m raw right now,” said his dad, Mel Pasquale, a San Clemente alum who also played football. Head Coach Jaime Ortiz has given him the “unofficial title of Director of Football Operations,” for his constant volunteer efforts for the Tritons.
- See the video above for comments from Ortiz and UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora.
Hundreds, maybe upwards of 300, showed up Sunday night, a large percentage wearing San Clemente jerseys and another large percentage wearing Bruin blue and gold. Those who knew Nick less than two years sobbed alongside those who grew up with him.
“It’s absolutely brutal,” said Carl Hulick, Nick’s teammate from UCLA, where they called Nick “Pac Man” because, as Hulick put it, “He’s the man.”
Being small, Nick had to work twice as hard as anyone else – and he did, said childhood friend Ian Young, also San Clemente High Class of 2012.
“Nothing was ever given to Nick. He worked for everything he got,” Young said.
It was that drive and an undeniable enthusiasm which motivated his older brother A.J.
“He was always the one pushing us to the next level … always making sure we weren’t getting lazy,” A.J. said, calling his younger brother a role model in his 20 short years on earth.
A.J. told Patch that ultimately, Nick wanted to be a firefighter. Or something to help others.
Like a football coach.