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Acadia’s Nissen going to World University Games in Taipei before final hoops season at Acadia

Erik Nissen faces off against Dalhousie in spring playoff action.
Erik Nissen faces off against Dalhousie in spring playoff action.

WOLFVILLE - Erik Nissen is looking forward to his third and final season at Acadia starting this fall, but before that, he is planning to have a pretty fulfilling summer and fulfill a lifelong dream.

Like many of his basketball Axemen teammates, Nissen spent the summer in Wolfville to train together as much as possible.

Not the whole summer, though. The six-foot-10 Quispamsis, NB native is spending part of August wearing a Team Canada uniform and attending the 2017 Summer Universiade in Chinese Taipei.

He explained that the Canadian team for the World University Games was selected by a committee representing all of U-Sports .

It's a completely different experience for him - and a dream come true.

“I've always dreamed of having Canada across my chest, and it's worked out well for me," he said.

And with Kevin Bercy from St. F.X. and Javon Masters from UNB also on Team Canada, Nissen will have some familiar company, even if he isn't necessarily that used to having them on the same roster.

“It's nice to see some of the AUS talent get recognized,” he said.

The United States will be represented at the games by a team from Purdue University in Illinois. Nissen and his Team Canada teammates spent a week at Purdue training and playing inter-squad games before heading to Taipei. The competition runs from Aug. 19-30, but Nissen spent a week in Taipei City with his teammates beforehand to get adjusted to the time change and squeeze in some more practice.

The round robin competition will last for around five days, followed by the playoff round.

The opportunity to represent his country was “a dream come true," he said.

"Not only is it something I've always wanted to do, but it's also likely to open some future doors for me,” he said.

Final season at Acadia

The 2017-2018 season is his final year with Acadia, but he's hoping that this season won't be his last.

"Hopefully, basketball doesn't end for me," he said.

“My dream has always been to keep playing after I'm done here, maybe in Europe. It would be neat to be able to make basketball a career, even it was only for a year or two.”

When Nissen finished Grade 12 at Kennebecasis Valley High in New Brunswick, his original intention was to further his education at Acadia and play for the basketball Axemen.

“I'd had a lot of CIS attention, but nothing from NCAA Division 1,” he said. “I'd been talking a lot with (Axemen head coach) Steve Baur, and was pretty set on coming to Acadia.”

In the meantime, he took a weekend trip with his mother and ended up attending a tournament called the Caribana Classic, where he was scouted by the University of Maine. UMaine offered him a full scholarship to play NCAA D-1 basketball, “and once that was on the table, it was hard to say no.”

He went to Maine with the plan to stay for four years, but he experienced some knee problems. A new coach who had never seen him play to his full potential, due to the injuries, came on board.

After two years, he returned to Canada, and it came down to a decision between playing at Acadia or in Alberta.

“Coach Baur had left Acadia by that time, but he and Acadia had left their mark on me, and I felt more at home here,” he said.

Nissen was able to take advantage of a new CIS 'repatriation rule', which allowed Canadians attending university in the U.S. to return to Canada and play right away, without sitting out a year.

He continued to have some minor problems with his knees his first season with the Axemen but returned home in the summer of 2016 to do strength training and rehab.

"It not only helped my knees, it helped my overall game - and my knees are fine now,” he said.

Nissen earned a berth on the second all-conference team following a 2016-2017 season that saw him average 18.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and lead the conference with 41 blocks.

“I tend to not worry as much about stats as wins and losses,” he said. “I had a really good start, stats-wise, and I thought my game pretty much stayed at a steady level all season.”

Looking ahead

The Axemen will head into the 2017-2018 season knowing they will be hosting the U-Sport nationals, which comes with an automatic berth into the Final Eight next March in Halifax.

“We know going in that this could be our year, regardless," he said. "Everything is lining up well. Hosting nationals is pretty much a back-up because our goal is to win the AUS. Our mindset is to be able to play with anyone in the country.”

The departure of veterans Kyle Arseneault and A.J. Simmonds will leave a hole.

“We wouldn't be where we are without what they brought to our program, but we have players (like Mitch Tempro and Ben Miller) stepping up and growing into their roles, and some good-looking recruits,” Nissen added.

Nissen describes a "different energy level" on the team this year, and it's translating to improvements in intrasquad play and in the gym.

“It's a feeling you can't really describe, but it's nice to see that kind of energy a month and a bit into the off-season. If we keep working like we have been, it should pay off for us,” he said.

Nissen plans to graduate with his kinesiology degree in the spring of 2018, but he isn't certain what the future will hold for him.

“I can definitely see a future in education, working with kids as well as coaching,” he says, and wants to see what his future in basketball might hold.

- contributed by Acadia Athletics  

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