Published DateLACONIA — Though he only spent part of his high school career at Laconia High, having transferred from a private school, Graham Nyhan quickly established himself as a standout athlete for the Sachems. He graduated on Sunday and plans to matriculate to Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., where he's been offered scholarships for both his baseball and football abilities.
Before he heads off to college, though, Nyhan will have a few notable opportunities to represent his hometown. He's been selected to participate in three statewide all-star games.
The first honor this summer will come on Monday, when Nyhan, a catcher and a pitcher, will join the best baseball players in the state for the Maine-New Hampshire All-Star Game, played at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
The most high-profile opportunity for him will occur August 3 on Memorial Field in Hanover, when Nyhan will play tight end in the 60th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, which pits the best football players of New Hampshire against those from Vermont. Nyhan's appearance in the game will mark the first time that three generations of one family have played in the Shrine game. His father, Chip, was a fullback, and grandfather Daniel Nyhan was a lineman.
For Nyhan, though, it's the least storied event that holds the greatest personal significance.
On June 29, at University of New Hampshire's Crowell Stadium, Nyhan will represent Laconia on the East Team in the 2nd Annual CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game, an event which benefits the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
As he prepares for the game, Nyhan's thoughts go back about five years, when his younger brother Griffin started to get sick for reasons that evaded his local doctors. "He didn't eat for like three months," Nyhan recalled. He remembers the feeling of watching his only sibling, who was then in fourth grade, lose pound after pound until he was 30 pounds lighter than before he fell ill.
"Just not knowing what was wrong, it's hard to explain. You always fear the unknown." Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock was finally able to end the mystery, diagnosing Griffin with a rare stomach virus. Griffin has since recovered and is completing his freshman year at LHS.
"It's an extra motivation, a personal game," Nyhan said. "They helped my brother, so I'm going to give back what I've got, fund raise as much as possible." He's been encouraging local businesses to purchase ads in the game handbook. He is also selling coupon books that include a ticket to the game.
Nyhan will have a familiar face on the coaching staff. LHS football coach Craig Kozens will serve as an assistant coach for the CHaD game. Players are nominated by their coaches, then the coaching staff for each side whittles its list of hundreds down to 36. "It's the best talent in the state, the best 72 players in New Hampshire," said Kozens. Team East's head coach will be Bob Camirand, formerly coach of Concord High School.
At Laconia, said Kozens, "He played everywhere for us." Nyhan lined up as outside linebacker, kicker, snapper, quarterback, defensive back and split end. It's as tight end, though, that Nyhan's strengths are best displayed. "He blocks well on the edge, he's got phenomenal hands," said Kozens.
Nyhan has an exciting four years ahead of him, during which he'll continue to play the sports that he loves and will pursue his education. He's currently undeclared, but is considering a major in engineering or physical therapy. He isn't overlooking his unusual opportunities this summer, though.
"It's an honor. I get to represent my city for the cause of helping young kids."