Shaun Nixon was a highly recruited four star athlete out of Austin, Texas, who endeared himself to Horned Frog fans by flipping to TCU from A&M just days before Signing Day. He continued his journey to fab favorite as he fought back from an ACL tear leading into his freshman year, and with his ability on the field when he finally made his debut in 2015 - especially against Oklahoma State, when he went OFF for nine catches and nearly 150 yards after Josh Doctson went down with an injury. Nixon is the kind of explosive, versatile athlete that makes the TCU offense hum.
But as good as he is on the field, Nixon might be more of an ‘impact player’ off of it, as his work with underprivileged and underserved kids has made a real and tangible difference in the lives of hundreds of students from in and around Fort Worth. He does that primarily through a program called S.P.A.R.K., an organization focused on mentoring and being a role model for kids.
For his work with SPARK and other community outreach organizations, Shaun was recently profiled by the Big XII Conference as one of its “Champions For Life”. From their story:
Nixon, inspired by a few teammates who had launch a program called Strong Players are Reaching Kids (S.P.A.R.K.), wanted to use his own experiences to become a role model for kids in the area who needed that mentorship.
“We will go out to any school out there and talk to young kids who may not have sight, vision, or direction, and we try to instill some of that in them and show them and give them hope that they can go to college,” said Nixon. “A lot of times, kids think they can’t go because either they’re not good at school or they don’t have the money. So what we do is come in and instill some morals and values and tell them it is possible.”
Nixon, along with Carroll and teammate Kenny Hill, are passionate about making a difference in the community. That idea doesn’t stop with youth; recently, the friends have started brainstorming ideas about how to help the homeless community in the Fort Worth area.
“We were giving out tacos to people who had come to the baseball game. We got the idea of ‘why don’t we go down to the homeless shelter and give these out to people?’ We went down there and so many people came out and said ‘thank you for this.’
“So we got together and thought ‘what should we do for these people? Let’s make some more tacos.’ So we put our money together, we had some friends that came over and we bought utensils, put some tacos together and went back there, and they loved it,” he said.
People have started taking notice of what Nixon is doing off of the field; he was recently named as an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee and is on the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List, an award given annually to the college football player “who best combined exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”
For Nixon, however, the greatest thing about giving back is the joy it brings to those he helps.
“When you see the look on their faces and how happy they are … this is a real feeling for me. It makes you want to keep doing it. It’s not for recognition, not for money or anything like that. It’s just the beauty of them being thankful for what you are giving them. It makes you feel like no other in the world, so it’s something that we want to continue doing,” he said.
It is young people like Shaun Nixon that make us proud to be Horned Frogs. While the success on the field has certainly been fun to watch, the character of this team makes them so easy to root for. Gary Patterson, for one, certainly recognizes how special it is having student-athletes like Nixon on his team, in his locker room, and at his campus.
“He understands what he wants to do with his life, a lot more than some of the other kids his age,” said Patterson. “To give monetarily and of your time to help kids that are less fortunate, you have to take your hat off and you have to really respect what they do. It’s fun to watch them grow and to see how they help others become successful.”
You can watch the feature below, and be sure to root on Shaun and the rest of the Frogs Saturday afternoon against West Virginia.