METHUEN — He played for Methuen when he was in high school, was a walk-on for the University of Massachusetts Amherst and now for the past three years Nick Collopy has been playing semipro for the New England Football League — simply because he still can.
“I missed it a lot,” Collopy said. “I feel like since I got injured at UMass that I didn’t get to get all the football out of my system. I figured while my body was healthy I would take the plunge and do it again. The body’s holding up good so far.”
Collopy, 25, plays outside linebacker for the New England Hawks during their 10-game season against other teams from Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont.
“I would still play it if it was only a two-game season,” Collopy said. “It doesn’t matter to me. It’s football. If there’s any opportunity to play in a game while I’m still healthy, I’m going to play.
“I don’t care where it is. I’ll play anywhere and anytime for nothing. It’s fun. These are the guys that truly love it.”
It’s not just loving to play football, for Collopy it’s so much more.
“The camaraderie,” Collopy said. “Nothing beats it in any sport. It takes the whole group to be on the same page. I think there’s something special about that.”
Collopy started playing in the NEFL in 2005 when he joined the Merrimack Valley Crush. He played two seasons for the Crush before they merged with the Seacoast Hawks to form the New England Hawks.
Even though the two teams merged, Collopy has faith his team will make it to the playoffs because a majority of them have been playing together for a while.
“In my three years playing, we have a group of core players that really play well together,” Collopy said. “Some of the better teams in the league, I think, have players that tend to stick together and play together.”
Playing together is one thing, to Collopy and his teammates having chemistry is most important.
“Chemistry is the key,” Collopy said. “We can tell right away if our opponents have chemistry or not. It’s something where you have 11 people who have to be on the same page, every play and remain focused.
“If one link is off then the whole chain fails. Teams with great chemistry will play together. That takes a lot of practice and a lot of trust too. You have to have trust in your players. All 11 have to know what’s going on.”
The Hawks work on getting their chemistry set twice a week during two- to three-hour practices, and those practices started in April.
“Some guys I know, we get together and workout together on the side,” Collopy said.
The Hawks’ home field is Haverhill Stadium and play their first home game this Saturday at 7 p.m. vs. the Middleboro Cobras.
Scouting report on Nick Collopy
High School: Methuen High Class of 1999; started two-years for the Rangers.
College: University of Massachusetts-Amherst Class of 2003; earned a spot as a walk-on for two seasons, 1999-2001.
Coaching Career: Assistant football coach, MHS, 2003-2007; assistant indoor and outdoor track coach, current; defensive coordinator North Shore Tech, current.
Teaching Career: MHS Business and Marketing since 2003.
Professional Playing Career: Merrimack Valley Crush 2005, 2006; New England Hawks, current.
Aug. 4, 7 p.m. Middleboro Cobras
Aug. 11, 7 p.m. @ Rhode Island Raptors
Aug. 18, 7 p.m. Weymouth Sharks
Aug. 25, 7 p.m. Rhode Island Raptors
Sept. 8, 7 p.m. Southern Maine Raging Bulls
Sept. 15, 7 p.m. Lowell Nor’Easter
Sept. 22, 7 p.m. @ Boston Bandits
Sept. 29, 7 p.m. @ Middleboro Cobras