Teamwork makes everything sing, Bishop’s volleyballer says
Published - 05/23/16 - 09:18 AM | 6821 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Math wonk Nico Langlois says sports and music are the sums of their parts. PHOTO BY ED PIPER
Math wonk Nico Langlois says sports and music are the sums of their parts. PHOTO BY ED PIPER
Having been to the prom the night before, and with a volleyball playoff game scheduled later in the day, Nico Langlois is playing it pretty cool. He looks rested and is animated in a conversation about his activities and outlook.

One is impressed with his maturity. In response to a question about his views on the increasing sophistication of high school and club sports and the resulting pressure on student-athletes and their families to land college athletic scholarships, the 16-year-old says: “I can only speak from my experience. Here at Bishop’s, you’d never hear, ‘Don’t go to class,’ (go train more for your sport). With (volleyball coach) Jackie (Bernardin), no. The coaches are really conscientious here.”

He blends an interest in the linear nature of math with his passion for singing in the school choir. The common denominator between The Bishop’s Singers and being an outside hitter on the volleyball team is the opportunity to work as part of a team. “In choir,” he explains, “everyone has a separate part, but it fits together.” The Knights’ volleyball team has only eight players this year – six play at a time – and “we’re short.” Nico measures only 6’0” as an outside hitter, going up against opponents much taller. “It’s an uphill battle,” he says without intending the pun. “You have to keep your morale up, don’t get down on yourself.”

He cites La Jolla High and Dane Pieper, who measures 6’1”, but the Vikings can also go up to 6’6” on the front line. That’s part of the joy of studying at Bishop’s – whether it’s the football team, with several players playing on both platoons, or the volleyball team, with only two players to rotate in, the Knights have to be “one for all, all for one.”

He learned French “with a French accent” by attending the French-American School in La Jolla his elementary years, and he’s French-Canadian through his Montreal-born father J.C. His travel and study have enabled him to add Spanish to his language arsenal. He spent a month in Spain a couple of years ago, plus “we traveled all over Europe. My mom (Karen) likes to travel. My dad’s mom is German. She immigrated to Quebec in the 1950s with her family. She was 15.”

Though Langlois has only been in one theater production at school, he made the most of it. It came during his sophomore year. In the musical “Rent,” he played a junkie. Sitting across from this clean-cut, smiling, even wholesome young person, it’s hard to imagine him as a hard-pedaling drug user.

Told that he’s so engaged in conversation despite being a math wonk, the potential McGill University matriculant responds, “That’s because I’m with The Bishop’s Singers. I’m a tenor. What do we sing? Everything.

“We just had a choir director change (the longtime director retired after 25 years). I don’t know the theme of our music. We sing nice music. ‘The Earth Song,’ for example. There are about 20 students in our group. Could I see studying music as a minor in college? Probably. It’s one of my passions.

“With the choir,” he continues, “it’s really fun when the group can sound like one unit. Everyone has a separate part, but it fits together.”

Asked about the difference between his position in volleyball as an outside hitter and a middle hitter-blocker, he explains, “It’s a consistency thing. Inherently, to get a good pass at the middle position is difficult. You can set outside all the time, whereas to the middle about 20 percent of the time, because it’s harder to get the perfect pass.”

Informed of the view of U.S. Olympic soccer head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that developing athletes should be trained in a sports academy setting instead of playing for a school team, Langlois is thoughtful. “My parents have brought me up with a focus on priorities,” he says. “Education is very important. But they will support me in whatever I do. If I said I want to be a pro basketball player, a crazy idea, I think my mom would support me. It’s however far the kid wants to take it.”

The pressure and competition for college volleyball scholarships? “I know Dane (Pieper). He plays for Coast, right? They (Dane and Jake Northrup, his La Jolla teammate and fellow hitter) work really hard. If Dane can use his volleyball skills to get into an institution, good for them. If you work hard and you enjoy the sport, then go for it.”

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Karen Rees
May 24, 2016
Very insightful commentary on volleyball and education & life
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