Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

'God always had a plan': High school basketball player Nick Herrmann hits game-winner after beating cancer

Nick Herrmann had no other way to describe the journey leading up to his 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section championship for undefeated Torrey Pines High School on Saturday night.

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“I’m so glad [teammate Nate Witte] passed me the ball and I’m really blessed,” he told KUSI Sports after the game. “It was God’s plan the whole time.”

Less than three years ago, Herrmann was told he would never play basketball again and may lose his leg after being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor, known as osteosarcoma, in his left leg.

The diagnosis came in September 2018. Herrmann was determined to prove the medical experts wrong and return to the court the minute a doctor delivered the news. He never lost faith in God’s plan for him.

“The hard work has been unmatched,” he said after Saturday’s game. “The pain, the suffering I’ve been through, I knew God always had a plan. I’ve dreamed of this moment my whole life. Every day that I was in the hospital, I dreamed of this very moment, taking that very shot. Now it’s finally came to be and I couldn’t be more happy. All the glory to God.”

In July 2018, Herrmann was suffering from what he thought were shin splints during a tournament in Las Vegas. X-rays and an MRI showed it was actually a broken tibia caused by a cancerous tumor on the bone. He missed a year of school while spending 70 days in the hospital and undergoing four surgeries. After receiving treatment, Herrmann had to learn to run all over again.

Four months after Herrmann was told he had cancer, his mom, Nicole, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She returned to work in October 2019 following 10 months of successful treatment.

While his basketball career was temporarily put on hold, Herrmann stayed connected to the game by watching. He found himself drawn to the Marquette Golden Eagles, and particularly guard Markus Howard, who now plays for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

It did not take long for Herrmann to decide where he wanted to take his Make-A-Wish trip when the opportunity arose. He watched the Golden Eagles take down Villanova on Jan. 4, 2020, and got to hang out with Howard and the rest of the Marquette team.

“Spending time with Nick and his family was a joy,” Howard told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2020. “He’s an unbelievable kid. After what he has been through, it meant a lot to all of us on the team to have him sitting in our locker room.”

Since returning to the court, Herrmann has made it his mission to encourage anyone going through a battle similar to his, and serve as an inspiration for as many people as possible.

“I have a platform now to help others,” Herrmann told the Union-Tribune. “I preach being strong mentally to do the best with what you have, to have a good attitude. My goal is to not let this experience affect anything I do. It won’t change my way of life. Being an athlete, getting through this, maybe I can motivate others. I’m going to use sports to get my story out.”

The Falcons put their perfect 29-0 record on the line in the regional semifinals Thursday night.

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