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WVU’s Aden Tagaloa-Nelson fulfilling childhood dream as a 2-sport faculty athlete

MORGANTOWN — From an early age, Aden Tagaloa-Nelson’s mom inspired him to dream massive.

“My mother was very massive on me dreaming and conducting something I needed to dream about,” the WVU freshman mentioned final week. “My mother was massive on that, manifesting and conducting something you wish to.”

Tagaloa-Nelson’s mom, Teade Tagaloa, had him write down the issues he dreamed about conducting in life.

“Once I was younger, my mother made me write affirmations and certainly one of my greatest affirmations was to be a two-sport athlete in faculty,” he revealed. “I began that in about fifth grade.” 

Quick-forward about seven years and Tagaloa-Nelson has made that dream come true. As of Jan. 13, Tagaloa-Nelson is a member of each the WVU soccer and males’s basketball groups.

“It’s been a drastic change to my schedule, clearly,” Tagaloa-Nelson mentioned. “I’m beginning at 7 within the morning and I’m not getting dwelling till 6 p.m.”

Tagaloa-Nelson got here to WVU this summer season on a soccer scholarship. He performed in a single sport for the Mountaineers whereas redshirting within the fall. When soccer season ended, Tagaloa-Nelson reached out to WVU hoops coach Josh Eilert, whom he already had a relationship with, about becoming a member of the lads’s crew.

“This all took place with coach Eilert when he got here to recruit my youthful cousin, Jasper Johnson,” Tagaloa-Nelson defined. “We simply type of carried that relationship till I obtained down right here for soccer.”

It was on that recruiting journey to Woodford County Excessive Faculty in Versailles, Ky. when Eilert noticed Tagaloa-Nelson for the primary time. Realizing he was a WVU soccer commit, Eilert launched himself.

“He was a fairly good basketball participant,” Eilert mentioned. “He was a tough-minded, sturdy guard and he competed. He was such a pleasant younger man and I carried on that relationship with him.”

Tagaloa-Nelson, a security on the soccer crew, arrived in Morgantown over the summer season for follow and took time to observe up with Eilert, and even take part just a few open practices with the Mountaineers.

Eilert floated the thought of Tagaloa-Nelson becoming a member of the basketball crew as soon as the soccer season was over and that’s precisely what the freshman did.

“After soccer ended I loved the bowl sport win for a couple of week after which I cleared it with (WVU soccer) coach (Neal) Brown,” Tagaloa-Nelson mentioned. “He gave me the a-okay after which I instructed coach Eilert ‘Let’s do it.’”

Tagaloa-Nelson was formally added to the WVU males’s basketball roster on Jan. 13. Including a soccer participant to what was, on the time, a 6-10 crew was by no means going to abruptly flip the Mountaineers into contenders, but it surely did full the dream Tagaloa-Nelson had been holding onto all these years.

“It’s loopy that it’s occurring now,” he mentioned. 

After a couple of month of practising with the crew, Tagaloa-Nelson noticed his first enjoying time on Feb. 10 within the remaining 5 minutes of the Mountaineers’ 94-58 loss at Texas.

“(I used to be) something previous nervous, I used to be super-nervous,” he admitted. “In fact as a lot work as I’ve been placing in, I’ve been ready for the chance, however while you first get into the motion, particularly with their starters nonetheless on the ground, it was positively nerve-racking.”

Tagaloa-Nelson missed his solely subject aim try and dedicated two turnovers throughout his time on the ground.

As a senior in highschool, Tagaloa-Nelson helped Woodford County advance to the Kentucky Candy 16, averaging 12.7 factors per sport on the state match, however the leap to main convention faculty basketball is an enormous one.

“Once I follow with the fellows, they’re right here for a cause, they’re actually good basketball gamers,” he mentioned. “Even going in opposition to them in follow typically looks as if a bit a lot, however now I’m type of relaxed.”

Rising up in basketball-crazed Kentucky, Tagaloa-Nelson at all times thought his primary athletic accomplishments would come on the hardwood.

“That’s one other factor no one actually is aware of, I didn’t begin enjoying soccer till ninth grade,” he admitted. “I’ve at all times been a basketball child.”

Tagaloa-Nelson went to Father Ryan Excessive Faculty for his freshman and sophomore years.

“The soccer coach there instructed me I needed to come out and play soccer and I used to be in opposition to it at first,” Tagaloa-Nelson mentioned.

It wasn’t till the crew’s energy and situation coach, who additionally coached Tagaloa-Nelson’s AAU basketball crew, mentioned he believed Tagaloa-Nelson’s pure athleticism might make him a Energy 5 faculty soccer participant, that he agreed to attempt it.

Because it turned out, Tagaloa-Nelson excelled at each sports activities, though soccer got here out forward. As a senior, Tagaloa-Nelson caught 41 passes for 743 yards and 10 touchdowns whereas additionally racking up 56 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions.

Faculties started to take discover and Tagaloa-Nelson’s recruitment took a winding route to finish in Morgantown. He initially dedicated to play security at Ball State, however flipped and as an alternative dedicated to play receiver at Western Kentucky. Then every week earlier than Tagaloa-Nelson was going to signal with the Hilltoppers, he met WVU defensive backs coach ShaDon Brown. 

WVU formally supplied Tagaloa-Nelson on nationwide signing day, at which level he flipped once more and signed with the Mountaineers.

Soccer stays Tagaloa-Nelson’s No. 1 sport and his primary focus is making ready for the 2024 season subsequent fall. Nonetheless, he’ll spend the subsequent few weeks on the hardwood, serving to out the Mountaineers in any method he can.

“He’s only a high-character child and enjoys competing day by day,” Eilert mentioned. “We’re actually completely happy to have Aden in no matter capability that could be.”

And if Tagaloa-Nelson ever had goals of being a three-sport athlete, he could be knocking on the door of WVU males’s soccer coach Dan Stratford subsequent.

“Soccer was my third sport,” Tagaloa-Nelson mentioned with a smile, “however coach Neal most likely received’t go for that.”

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