I first met Nick Tripp when my son Nicholas was in 7th grade at Indian Springs Middle School. The school was brand new and the boys athletic teams were getting their bearings and trying to compete against the established schools in the district. Nick was in 8th grade and was a super athlete helping the Eagles with their pursuit of success.
Nick was one of those polite kids, always with a smile that made you instantly like him. As I helped the ISMS coaches by making sure the kids jumping the high jump got to their station on time, I would have time to sit and talk with Nick and got to know him pretty well. When the boys moved to KHS, Nicholas played first JV and then Varsity Baseball with Nick, and at every game Nick would always come over to say hi and talk. Always with that big smile on his face.
Because there were two Nick’s on the team, Nick became NickTripp…one word, no pause. Nick was a competitor and played the game of baseball hard, sometimes drawing the ire of the other team. I remember my son’s freshman year when they were playing JV ball, that the kids from Colleyville had called some of the members of the Keller Team and told them that were going to take NickTripp out. Nick didn’t let it bother him, he just went out and played the game, maybe with a little more jawing at the other team than usual. That was Nick, never backing down.
Since most don’t follow high school baseball, you might remember Nick playing football. He played Linebacker for the Indians and was known for his hard hits and his 54 yard fumble return against Brewer his Senior Year.
Nick left school in the spring of his senior year to work some problems out that he had in his life. His last high school baseball game was at The Ballpark in Arlington against Plano, the next morning he would leave for two months to return to the team involved in the playoffs. Nick looked better, had gained some of his weight back and had that bright smile again.
The last time I saw Nick was at a local restaraunt eating wings, looking great. Always the polite kid with the Mr. Miller this and that, asking about my Nick and promising to get up to a baseball game. I ran into Nick’s dad during the elections last year and he let me know that Nick had joined the Marines and his dad was proud. I told his father to let Nick know that we were proud of him and to tell him to keep his head down when he hit the shit overseas.
I got a call yesterday from my son asking if I had heard about Nick Tripp, and my first thought was Iraq. No, my son said that they had found him dead in a hotel room outside of his base in North Carolina. Details are still coming in, but I will remember Nick Tripp for those times when he had that big smile on his face.
Nick at the Ballpark in Arlington, February 2006