Nick Pasquale remembered for work ethic, impact on others
By Jim Shilander
Less than a day after the shocking news of the death of 20-year old UCLA Bruin football player and San Clemente High School graduate Nick Pasquale, members of the Triton family gathered by the hundreds to provide support to the Pasquale family and share their grief for the loss of a friend and teammate.
Pasquale was killed early Sunday morning when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle near the intersection of Calle Nuevo and Camino de los Mares. Lt. Gary Strachan said the investigation indicated the vehicle that struck Pasquale was part of a tandem of cars driving together, and while one car managed to avoid Pasquale, the other did not. Strachan said the driver of the vehicle called to report the incident, and that drugs or alcohol were not believed to be a factor.
Hundreds came to the Thalassa Stadium field at San Clemente High School Sunday evening to honor Pasquale’s memory, as players wearing their Tritons jerseys and other students consoled each other, along with adults hoping to support their children or their friends.
Father Mel Pasquale, dressed in a T-shirt bearing his son’s name and UCLA jersey number, 36, told the crowd his son, “never, ever stopped.”
“He never disappointed anybody,” Mel Pasquale said of his son. “He was a great kid, a great friend, and I’m going to miss him terribly.”
UCLA teammate Carl Hulick said Pasquale always worked to maximize his ability, and that brought him the respect of all of his teammates.
“Just being around him, everyone loved him,” Hulick said. “Everything Nick Pasquale did, he did 100 percent. It’s a loss that all of us are feeling.”
Hulick said Pasquale, who was listed on the Bruins’ roster at 5 feet 7 inches tall and 172 pounds, took doubts about his ability stemming from his small size and used them to force himself to work harder. “Nick was always working to be the best that he could be.”
Former Triton quarterback Brad Curtis, a teammate of Nick’s brother A.J., said Nick was “a special kid.”
Football-wise, he was so small, but he loved to be underrated,” Curtis said. “He loved proving people wrong. There was no one in San Clemente who put forth more effort. I was super excited to hear what would happen to Nick Pasquale. That kid had a heart of gold.”
SCHS athletic director Jonathan Hamro said when he heard the news Sunday, his first thoughts, after the initial shock, were for Mel Pasquale and his family.
“Mel has become a mentor to me, not just as a coach, but also as a parent,” Hamro said. The example both Mel and Nick Pasquale had set, he said, was one of effort and striving to bring out the best in others in the community. Hamro also said grief counselors will be made available to students as the new school year begins Monday, as will staff.
Chris Zines, a family friend of the Pasquales, called them, “One of the legendary families of San Clemente, in terms of caring for the community, and caring for the high school.”
Zines noted that the Pasquales continued to remain active in the school after Nick’s graduation, showing their dedication.
The size of the crowd, he said, also showed how much the family, and Nick, had touched the San Clemente community.
Senior Tritons player Grant Lyttle, a cousin of Pasquale’s said his cousin’s work ethic was always the thing that stuck with him, as the thing that moved his cousin from being an undersized high school player to one working to compete in the Pac-12. His focus now, Lytle said, will be on celebrating the life and example his cousin provided.