Favorite athlete: Miguel Cabrera
Favorite team: Philadelphia 76ers
Favorite memory competing in sports: “My favorite memory would be making it to the second day of the District One Golf Tournament in 10th grade after shooting a 79 (7 over par), what was then my best competitive round. It was great because I really had no expectations going into the day, and it made my coach, teammates and family proud.”
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: In ninth grade, I was playing in a golf match where something kind of shocking happened with a teammate of mine. A bee flew inside his shirt. He went crazy and ended up ripping his shirt off. The bee got away without stinging him. I don’t know, I thought it was funny.
Music on your iPod: U2, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Phoenix
Future plans: I plan to major in engineering in college, wherever that may be. Some of the schools I’m applying to right now are Pitt, Drexel, Lehigh and Lafayette. I want to continue being a good student and continue learning, inside and outside the classroom. Also, I just want to stay sane, nice and close to my family throughout my life.
Words to live by: ‘You gotta…make your own kind of music.’ –Mama Cass
One goal before turning 30: I would love to go to Ireland and take a trip around the country. I think the natural landscape of Ireland and other European countries is unlike anything else and something to be experienced.
One thing people don’t know about me: I know everything about them.
Once a month, when Nick Coyle isn’t on the golf course or in a textbook, the Abington High School senior is at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia, talking to folks, distributing food and doing whatever he can to help.
“They’re regular people,” Coyle said. “Some of them are really knowledgeable and have been down on their luck. They have different stories and experiences. It’s interesting to see where each person has come from. I was talking to a guy the other day from North Carolina. Now he’s here. … There’s another guy who comes in often and talks about religion a lot and has very strong beliefs.
“I just have conversations with them and listen to them,” Coyle said. “It feels good (to help).”
Coyle isn’t your prototypical athlete. Although he’s a four-year varsity golfer and was Abington’s team captain, and he has played baseball and soccer too, he’s also a humanitarian, top-notch student and someone with a wide range of interests, from music to engineering — and he plans to major in the latter in college.
“He’s one of the most humble athletes, students, people I’ve ever been around,” said Abington golf coach Jason Cottone, who used to coach the JV squad before taking over at the varsity level this year. “I’ve known him a little bit for four years, but I didn’t really get to know him well until now. He’s a very well-rounded person, and that’s one of the reasons I made him captain.”
Coyle, a member of the National Honor Society, has a schedule that is loaded with Advanced Placement courses. He has a 4.46 grade-point average out of a possible 4.6. As a senior, when lots of kids like to lighten their schedule, Coyle is doubling down to push himself like never before.
In fact, he barely even gets to eat.
“I don’t have a lunch period this year, so I have to eat lunch in class,” he said. “I had all A’s from ninth to 11th grade. My classes this year are a little harder. I tried to challenge myself even more.”
Among the colleges Coyle is considering are Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Drexel, Lehigh, Lafayette and a few Ivy League schools. He likes engineering for a couple of reasons.
“I feel like it’s a good major to go into right now, there are a lot of job opportunities out there,” he said. “And I’m a fan of math. I’ve always been math-minded.”
Among his many associations, Coyle has been a member of H2O, which educates people about the lack of drinking water in the world, and Build On, which raises money to build schools in developing countries. He has also played in the Pit Orchestra. He takes particular pride, however, in his involvement with Ultimate Frisbee Club.
“That’s fun,” he said.
When it comes to golf, his senior season didn’t go as well as he wanted.
“I had a better junior year,” he said. “But it’s something you just keep working on.”
As a junior, Coyle finished eighth in the Suburban One League, and as a sophomore he reached the second round of districts. Amazingly, he didn’t fully get into golf until ninth grade, although he had been around the game.
“Before that, I’d go chip-and-putting with my dad and brother, probably since I was around 8,” he said.
Still, many of his high-school teammates and competitors had much more experience on the links.
“He wasn’t a country-club kid or a golfer by nature,” Cottone said, “but he’s always working on his game. He’s extremely coachable and he’s a great leader. … He listens more than he talks, he’s very approachable, he constantly strives to do his best, constantly tries to improve. He’ll even overanalyze sometimes. … He’s not someone who gets up in your face, and the other players respond very well to him.
“After every round he plays, whether he was happy with it or not, he always goes off to putt more, to chip more or to work on his swing,” Cottone said.
Cottone recalls a conversation he had with Coyle at the beginning of the season.
“I told him, ‘Nick, you’re the captain,’ and he said, ‘Look, I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m not really a verbal person but I’ll do my best to lead by example. I’ll do everything to be a captain in that way.’ And he was great for our team.
“I just think he put a lot of pressure on himself personally, for his game, since it’s his senior year,” Cottone said. “I just told him that you can’t worry about that.”
Coyle’s affinity for golf continues to grow. He may or may not play in college, depending on if the opportunity arises, but either way he’ll remain committed to the sport.
“I like that it’s an individual sport — even though it’s also a team sport with Abington — because I get to control things,” Coyle said. “When I’m playing well, I know nothing can stop me. Seeing yourself hit a good shot is very satisfying. And for school I like it because anyone can play well on any given day. Anything can happen, and that seemed to be the case a lot this year, with different people playing well.”
The most distinctive feature of Coyle’s game is the way he approaches the course.
“When I’m playing well, I feel like I’m pretty smart out there,” he said. “Sometimes my putting is good, sometimes it’s my driving or my short game, it changes. But I think I always have pretty good course management and I try to limit mistakes.”
In addition to Nick, there is another Coyle boy coming down the pipeline — his younger brother Aidan, who’s a freshman soccer player who also plays basketball and baseball.
“He’s someone to keep an eye on,” Nick said.
As for Nick, there’s only one thing he longs for in regard to Abington High.
“I wish there was a ping-pong team or club at the school,” he said. “They had a couple tournaments when I was in ninth and 10th grade, and I won them. They should get ping-pong.”
Yet something else for Coyle to devote himself to.