Between wrestling, great grades, late French immersion and piano playing, it’s amazing that Alberni District Secondary School 2015 valedictorian Nolan Badovinac has even a moment to sit down and reminisce about it all.
“I have my Grade 7 piano certification with the Royal Conservatory of Music,” said Badovinac, who started playing when he was four.
He’s also headed to Simon Fraser University in September to study actuarial sciences.
“It’s a combination of math and business geared towards insurance and investments, stockbrokers—that sort of career.”
It’s a different side to the 17-year-old, who usually makes the news for his wrestling prowess.
That prowess on the mat gathers acclaim for good reason—Badovinac is a three-time national champion and recently committed to SFU’s wrestling team.
“You have to compete against the best if you want to be the best,” said Badovinac.
That’s what Badovinac expects to get at SFU. Unlike other Canadian universities, it’s part of the NCAA and competes against American teams.
“They wrestle folk-style which is a little different than what we wrestle here. The Americans have their style which is only wrestled in the U.S. and we wrestle freestyle, which is wrestled in the rest of the world.”
Competing in both styles gives Badovinac variety and prepares him well for his ultimate goal—the Olympics.
“The goal is to medal or even place at U21 worlds—I was second at the U21 nationals this year—and then after that I’d still be wrestling for another three years at SFU.”
It’s during those three years that he’ll get his shot at the Olympics.
“I’d be on the senior circuit and the guy who wins that is the guy who goes onto the senior worlds and onto the Olympics.”
While Badovinac is set to study actuarial sciences at SFU, he’s ready to reconsider his options if the Olympics start to look like a real possibility.
“If it looks like I can make it in the Olympics then I’d probably stick with it.”
The backing behind all Badovinac’s success is a family that has bolstered him every step of the way.
“I have a really supportive family,” Badovinac said.
“As far as academics go it’s always been expected that you do well.”
The athleticism in the Badovinac family didn’t start with Nolan. “My dad was a really, really competitive softball player. I think he actually finished second in the world a couple of times playing for Victoria.”
Badovinac’s younger brother Aaron is also a wrestler of note at ADSS.
Badovinac started playing baseball and then transitioned to wrestling in middle school under the advice of James Messenger, currently the vice-principal of E.J. Dunn and heavily involved with wrestling in Alberni.
He hasn’t stopped wrestling since, no matter what else has been on his plate.
“It all just kind of fit.”