By Scott Prater
Most Schriever intramural sports competitors know 1st Lt. Nick Goirigolzarri well. During 2012, he played centerfield for the 4th Space Operations Squadron softball team, leading the squadron to a second-place finish. He also played quarterback for the 4 SOPS football team, ran the Schriever Half Marathon in less than 2 hours and finished the base’s Murph competition in less than 40 minutes.
Those are just a few reasons why he was named Schriever Athlete of the Year for 2012. Seth Cannello, Schriever sports and fitness director, announced the news this week, and said Goirigolzarri’s accomplishments in Rugby and his coaching in the community are what separated him from other worthy finalists.
Goirigolzarri, a former U.S. Air Force Academy Rugby player, continued competing after entering active-duty status. This year, following extensive tryouts, he was selected for the All-Air Force Men’s Rugby 7s team and competed in the Armed Forces Sports Combined Services Championships. Only 12 of the 80 athletes who tried out made the team. He scored three tries during the tournament, helping lead the Air Force team to a runner-up finish.
Following that tournament he was selected to play for the All-Military Armed Forces Rugby team in a competition against the New Zealand All-Military team.
“It’s definitely an honor to earn this award,” he said. “There are a lot of great athletes here.”
As the 4 SOPS executive officer, it’s hard to believe he finds time for off-duty exploits, but everything mentioned so far only begins to tell the tale. He also performs the role of 4 SOPS physical training leader and coaches rugby for the Academy developmental team.
“Really, I’m helping those athletes who are new to the game, former football or soccer players or guys who found a roundabout way to the sport at the Academy,” he said. “I teach them how to be successful at the sport and foster the Air Force rugby community. Once they graduate, then they can go and play on the active-duty side. I guess in some ways I’m an ambassador for the sport. It doesn’t have to end at college.”
Lt. Col. Scott Trinrud, 4 SOPS commander, said Goirigolzarri was instrumental in helping 4 SOPS make up an 800-point differential to capture the Schriever Commander’s Cup, a year-long competition where squadrons earn points for participation and success.
“Nick is not only a great athlete, but his attitude and drive are contagious within the unit,” Trinrud said. “He was the driving factor in building our squadron participation for on-base events and he’s already at it again this year.”
The new year brings new opportunities for the athlete. He plans to play Rugby at the Air Force level as much as possible. Tryouts for this year’s team are set for spring with the Armed Forces Championships slated for August.
“Hopefully, I end up making that,” he said. “From a base standpoint I’ll continue to play intramurals for 4 SOPS and be involved in rallying our members so we can compete in the commander’s cup again. Performing that role last year really made me appreciate the events that Seth Cannello and the folks at the fitness center host.”
Cannello said the athlete of the year award is chosen from among the year’s quarterly award winners, which are based on a nomination process.
“We’ve been awarding the athlete of the year and athlete of the quarter honors for almost a decade,” he said. “We would like to see more nominations come in. It’s a fairly easy process and it’s a great way for units to recognize their best athletes.”
Contact fitness center staff for details on nominating a worthy athlete.