Becoming a collegiate athlete was the latest mission he accomplished when he signed up to play football for Dordt University on January 30 with family, friends, teammates and coaches in attendance and the feeling of meeting a goal is one he will never grow tired of.

Camdenton senior Jase Nicklas knows what it is like to fulfill a goal.

Becoming a collegiate athlete was the latest mission he accomplished when he signed up to play football for Dordt University on January 30 with family, friends, teammates and coaches in attendance and the feeling of meeting a goal is one he will never grow tired of.

“I always wanted to be a Laker football player and that was first and foremost my goal, but I had goals after that,” Nicklas said. “I wanted to continue to play as long as I could, so super pumped and happy to have a chance to fulfill those dreams I’ve had for a long time.”

Well, it is probably not too difficult to fall in love with a game like football if you grow up in Camdenton, considering the program has five state titles it can proudly claim.

“Camdenton has such a football atmosphere, just in general, and the town. As a kid in Camdenton you look up to those guys who are playing every year, every day you just hope to be those guys and eventually you are that guy. It is awesome because you get to inspire the next generation and so on and so forth, so it is cool,” Nicklas explained of his love for Laker football.

Camdenton football coach Jeff Shore never doubted that love, either, and the fact that Nicklas remained focused on the program, even with his obvious ability to play football at the next level, is something he admires.

“He did that, accomplished as much as he could there and now because of that he gets to take that next step on,” the coach remarked. “But wherever he was at, that was where he was at. He was not looking ahead and was the best he could be right now. He’ll also be the best he can be at Dordt as well.

“He set a really great standard for us and seeing how hard he played, his leadership and toughness- those are all things he passed down to the next group of guys.”

Nicklas, an All-Conference defensive back and wide receiver who was also named to the central Missouri Media All-District Team, made his impact known all over the gridiron.

Nicklas was Camdenton’s second-leading receiver in a high-flying passing offense where he hauled in 65 receptions for 943 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. On the defensive side of the ball he led the team in interceptions with six while also being the team’s second-leading tackler with 49 to his credit. He did all this while taking care of kick return duties, too.

Shore calls it a lost art.

“I think the main thing that impressed me about Jase is just what he got out of his talent. He got everything and gets every ounce out of his ability and that his hard to say,” Shore said of the 5-foot-9 Nicklas who also came back from a season-ending leg injury as a junior.

“Not a lot of guys reach their potential, and he still has room to improve and grow as he gets older, but he just does such a fantastic job. He was not hardly off the field this year and you talk about a tough kid, you look at him and I don’t know that he weighs 150 pounds and was one of the best players in the state of Missouri... He is just a tremendous player and just the heart he played with, he took advantage of ever bit of talent he had.”

It seemingly just comes with the territory of the mindset Nicklas had in meeting his goals.

“It is just a lot of hard work and you can have a dream all you want, but you have to work hard to fulfill that dream,” the senior posited. “Being surrounded by a great group of guys, the class of 2020 has been awesome and the two classes above me were great, too, so just hard work and having a great group of people around you to fulfill that goal.”

Dordt University, an NAIA school located in Sioux Center, Iowa, a town approximately 474 miles from Camdenton in the northwest region of the state, was one of the first schools to reach out to Nicklas as he entered his senior season.

“I just kind of kept that relationship,” said Nicklas who did not originally expect to call the school his new home. “Then, I was with the coaches and all the players and I was like, ‘Man, I love what they are building here, I love the atmosphere and the coaches are awesome.’ It is just super family-oriented, a lot like Camdenton is.”

And while he may nearly be 500 miles away, he will certainly not forget the experience he got to enjoy as a Camdenton Laker.

“The class I am a part of is a blessing just to be a part of. I have so much love for all the guys I played with and I hope everyone knows that,” the senior said. “I think we all do. We all love each other more than anything.”

Nicklas was recruited as an athlete by the Defenders where he will study business and computer science. He will also stay busy, looking to contribute to the school’s track and field and theatre programs.

“I had kind of grown up with it because my mom is the theatre teacher here and the director,” Nicklas said of his mother, Jo Beth Nicklas. “I kind of joked about it before that I was forced into it when I was younger, but I love it. Football is definitely number one, but I’d say theatre and choir are a close second. I love doing that stuff because it is an aspect of life some people do not get to tap into completely. It is just awesome to express yourself in those ways.

The senior has clearly followed his passions, which are now a part of his future. He encourages his fellow Lakers to do the same.

“Work hard, love your time here and play as hard as you can and you’ll find yourself on a team somewhere. Make sure you find yourself in the right place and make sure you love it,” he stated.