He made first team all-Northern Lights Conference at guard and linebacker at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. He made boxing and cage fighting appearances in Anchorage under the moniker Sepa “The Separator” Nicholas-Silvira. Now he’s made the Alaska Wild, Anchorage’s new arena football team.
Nicholas-Silvira, a 24-year-old who graduated from Kenai Central in 2001, was officially announced as a member of the team Monday. He said he will be the starting inside linebacker for the team and also be in the rotation at running back.
“I’m getting ready to put a helmet on and go bang,” Nicholas-Silvira said in a phone interview.
The Wild play in the Intense Football League, which has eight teams and is based in Texas. The league is two notches below the Arena Football League. The Wild open up a 14-game regular season schedule on Thursday at the Sullivan Arena with a 7:30 p.m. tilt against fellow expansion team Frisco (Texas) Thunder.
“Everybody is pumped,” Nicholas-Silvira said. “This whole town is ready. They can’t wait to see what we have.”
At Kenai Central, Nicholas-Silvira led the Kardinals in tackles and sacks during his senior year despite his modest size.
“He has a natural thing where he likes to line up and whack people,” Kenai coach Jim Beeson said of Nicholas-Silvira at the time.
After playing football for a year at Eastern Arizona College, Nicholas-Silvira moved to Anchorage in 2004. He had been indulging in his passion for whacking people by boxing and cage fighting when he heard about the Wild.
“I’ve always been a football player,” Nicholas-Silvira said. “Before anything else, that’s always been my passion. I had to jump for it.”
On Jan. 20, Nicholas-Silvira survived a tryout in Anchorage where 200 players were cut down to 12. He said the organization knew about him coming in because Anchorage is a small town and word gets around gyms fast. Nicholas-Silvira, now 5-10, 225, maintained the attention of the organization by benching 225 pounds 28 times and running a 4.7 40-yard dash.
“It’s not about those numbers. It’s about what you bring to the field,” he said.
Nicholas-Silvira said he then had to battle the past two weeks with eight guys for two spots. The Wild has 25 members 20 fully suited and five reserves from across the United States.
They pay will be $230 per game, with a $50 bonus for a victory. Nicholas-Silvira currently works for the chemical distribution company Univar USA and said the company has accommodated his football pursuits.
“I’m pretty much at wits’ end when it comes to money right now,” Nicholas-Silvira said. “You definitely have to love the sport.”
After the opener, the Wild embark on a five-game road trip that will take them through Texas and Louisiana.
“That’s the cool thing about football,” Nicholas-Silvira said. “It will take you all over the place. I’ve never been to Texas. That’s the football capital of the world.”
Nicholas-Silvira said he has never played arena football before. He said the action is intense because the field is so small and there is no out-of-bounds. Players simply run into a padded wall.
“You definitely have to have your head on a swivel,” he said. “The field is smaller and people are twice as fast as back in college or even high school. It’s almost like gladiator dome. There is no escape.”
Nicholas-Silvira said he is just happy to be playing football again, but wouldn’t mind if higher arena leagues took note of his talent.
“If anybody would pick me up, I’d definitely take a shot,” he said.
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