05/14/2018 12:08 PM -
No Place like Home for Nick Haag
By Mick Moninghoff
Nick Haag’s football life started in Worcester, Massachusetts playing high school football at Holy Name and continued on to UMass-Amherst and Assumption College. After a few NFL training camps and a stint in the Indoor Football League he finds himself back home with the Massachusetts Pirates and he would not have it any other way.
“It’s a blessing to be able to come home and play professional football in the city, he said. I’ve looked forward to doing it for a long time so to finally have the opportunity to do it is exciting.”
This season Haag has been a consistent force for the Pirates with 16.5 tackles, two sacks and four tackles for a loss, helping his team to a 5 and 1 record. His last stop was with the Spokane Empire in the IFL which made it hard for loved ones to see him on a regular basis. Now with the DCU Center as his “home turf,” Haag’s guest list can be rather large.
“I have family and friends who have not been able to see me play for a while because I’ve been all over the country, so to be back home now and have everybody at the eight home games is great. I’ll have a bunch of crazy people going nuts, screaming my name and cheering on this team. It’s special, He added.
Being back in New England has not only reconnected the linebacker with childhood friends, but it also reminds him of the role model he had as a young quarterback leading Holy Name to back to back state titles including an undefeated senior season.
“I grew up a Patriots fan. Tom Brady was always my guy, someone I idolized as a kid growing up. Just seeing how he does everything professionally and the way he goes about his business every day is impressive. He was someone I wanted to pattern myself after.”
So, like Brady, does Haag have his own personal trainer with the Pirates?
Haag laughed and said, “No. No personal trainer, but I do try to use some of his methods and put them to use because he’s obviously been successful.”
Haag say’s enjoys the arena game because its fast and physical but playing Mac linebacker does have its challenges as the rules limit the moves he can make.
“Sometimes it’s tough staying in the box. You see someone running a hitch route and you get back to your outdoor football ways where you want to get back ten yards, you can’t do that so you have to know your role. The Mac in this league is pretty much smash-mouth so it’s every play that you’ll be banning the center or a fullback. You have to be ready to do that and make your plays inside the box.”
Another challenge is playing up to the expectation of head coach Ameer Ismail who was a decorated linebacker in the IFL including being that leagues’ defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
“It’s tough just because he expects so much due to his success in the game of professional football. At times you never want to let him down because he played the same positon and he went through the same things I have. It’s also a blessing because he coaches me up and coaches the linebackers in a different way. It’s something that he did, so there is no better way to have your head coach, who has been in your shoes, be able to teach you want is going on and show you what to do. You always have that in the back of your mind. He’s meant a lot to me as a coach that I can lean on and that’s been great.”
Haag and his teammates are currently in first place in the National Arena League. Their passion and desire have made them the team to beat.
“It’s all about guys with a high motor, high intensity, guys who want to compete and mainly everybody wants to win a championship. Every player on this team is on board to win a title and when you have that, it doesn’t get any more special.”
Ultimately Haag would like another shot to play at a higher level. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 attending training camp and last season was with the New York Giants in mini-camp. A return to the NFL is never far from his mind.
“Everything is always in the works as far as going on to the next level, but I’ll come out here this year, work hard and get ready to get my shot again.”
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. Pirate Nation Season Ticket Memberships for the 2018 season are now available. Pirate Nation Memberships start as low as $60.00 for the remaining 5 home games. To become a Pirate Nation Season Ticket member or for more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call Kara Mancini at 508-929-0125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Pirates on facebook at facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.