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Nick Pasquale remembered for work ethic, impact on others

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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.

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comments (3)

  • As a Triton dad (San Clemente Pop Warner and High School Football)… I have had the blessing to have known Nick. My son was his team mate, his parents are great people. When my son told me last year that Nick made it as a walk-on player for UCLA I could have not been prouder! As a Bruins fan, finally a home grown San Clemente boy made it to UCLA… On behalf of our family; our deepest condolences goes out to the Pasquale’s family… Chris knows who we are and what we are about in this small sea side town in South Orange County. It is a great loss for all of us and I know that his jersey #10 will be retired and forever proudly hanged on our football field…

    “De astru astra” Nick Pasquale… Always Remembered, Never Forgotten!

    The Cattanach’s

  • PS. Chris Foster writes for The L.A. Times.

  • Californians for Nebraska is a Cornhusker support group, and this morning the board voted to donate proceeds from its opportunity drawings to the Nick Pasquale Foundation. CFN hosts watch parties at The OC Tavern in San Clemente, and various other locations in Southern California when Nebraska plays. UCLA plays at Nebraska on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Californians for Nebraska will donate the proceeds from two watch parties, the OC Tavern in San Clemente, Pasquale’s hometown, and Danny K’s in Orange. The OC Tavern will also donate 20% of their proceeds during the game to the Foundation. Money from the CFN opportunity drawings usually go the Californians for Nebraska scholarship fund, however, due to the connection CFN has with the OC Tavern, and given that Nick was a native son of San Clemente, CFN feels that it is important to do what we can at this very difficult time for Nick’s family, the community and school regardless of who we are cheering for. It has been reported that The University of Nebraska will honor Nick’s memory by placing his number on the helmets of Nebraska players, and on the field. Go Big Red.

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