Alec Nordsieck started liking the No. 3 jersey when he was nine and 6-4 Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade from Marquette won the NBA Finals MVP with a 33.8 ppg scoring average in 2006.
Besides, he felt No. 3 was a pretty decent quarterback number that would be applicable to all the sports he planned to pursue—and he wanted to be the man in football, basketball and baseball as he developed.
“Like, No. 30 is not a quarterback number,” said Nordsieck, a big admirer of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota of Oregon and his No. 8.
Being the man on center stage has certainly been the situation for Nordsieck at Hailey’s Wood River High School where he has grown from a slim and talented athlete to a 6-1, 190-pound three-sport star.
Resourceful in the clutch, he has been placed in bad situations in games and found a way to prosper. He has managed to make good things better. He has stood tall, rarely complaining in the heat of action.
His baseball coach Donnie Green said, “Alec wants to be the guy in the big situations. He’s confident. He doesn’t buckle under pressure. He does special things out there. And he gives us a chance to win.”
Nordsieck made a winning difference in three sports seasons for Wood River in 2015.
“I like to do the things that are needed,” said Nordsieck. “And I’ve been lucky to have good groups of teammates in all the sports I’ve played.”
He was the leader of Wood River’s boys’ basketball team that posted its first winning record (14-11) in 23 seasons. He was the staff pitching ace for the Wolverine baseball team that came within a whisker of making the state tourney with a 16-12 record—two years after going 1-22 on the diamond.
And he was the resourceful quarterback for Wood River’s football team that established all sorts of new team standards behind Nordsieck’s fearless scrambling and often-miraculous pass completions.
Put it all together, and 2015 was when Wood River High’s boys posted winning seasons for the first time ever in basketball, baseball and football (6-4), in the same year. And the common denominator was Nordsieck.
That’s why he’s the Idaho Mountain Express “Athlete of the Year,” for 2015, the first time in 38 years of the annual “athlete” selections that an active Wood River male athlete has been chosen for the honor.
“Alec is a really good athlete with a really good arm,” said his football coach Kevin Stilling. “And he has a commanding, dynamic presence.
“From his freshman year to this year, Alec’s decision-making has improved dramatically. He’s a lot mentally tougher. He has come to understand that the way he carries himself is important to the success of the team. He’s a leader by example. And he can be vocal when he needs to be.”
Nordsieck’s contributions on offense are most apparent on his football and basketball teams. His defense is less documented, but Nordsieck views his defense with great pride.
Tackling, for instance. When his Wood River coaches wanted to motivate the other players, they would holler out something like, “Why is our quarterback our best tackler?”
Stilling said, “For a quarterback, he’s a violent tackler. He arrives at a ball carrier with a really bad attitude. It’s his nature to find the ball, and he knows how to bring his hips and finish a tackle.”
Nordsieck said, “I always saw how intense (All-League teammate) Hayden Thayer was at tackling and I tried to mimic that. I watched how good he was at downhill tackling and open-space tackling.”
Added Stilling, “Alec gets a kick out of lighting someone up, bumping his chest and saying, yeah, this is a quarterback doing that to you.”
When Andy Miles took over as head coach of the Wood River basketball team at the last minute before the season started in 2012, he surveyed his options, took one look at freshman guard Nordsieck and made him the point guard—quite rare for a ninth grader.
In practice for three seasons, Miles would go head-to-head with Nordsieck in intense man-to-man sessions that challenged the young man and improved his “D” skills.
To this day, Nordsieck makes dazzling passes on the basketball court, but he really values defending another team’s best shooter—“face guarding,” he calls it, getting in people’s faces, accepting the challenge of ball denial and going out and doing it.
His arm has been his best asset on the baseball diamond, whether pitching or fielding at third base or shortstop. Yet it’s his competitiveness that makes Nordsieck the player he is.
Baseball coach Green said, “He throws very hard, mid-80s, good fastball and breaking ball, a good live arm and he’s gotten bigger and stronger. Great arm and great range at shortstop, too, which is where a coach usually puts the best fielder.”
After taking a year off from baseball as a sophomore to focus on his football development, Nordsieck came back to the diamond last season and pitched the big games for Wood River. But he would often get into control trouble and issue a flurry of free passes.
“He’s a battler,” said Green.
In a key playoff game against Great Basin powerhouse Minico, Nordsieck went up against Spartan ace Danny Freiburger and immediately got into trouble with walks. He got his team out of jam after jam and kept Wood River close until Minico finally prevailed.
After the game, Green talked with Minico head coach Jared Price, a 2000 Minico grad who spent 12 years and played 616 games in minor league baseball as a catcher. Price, knowledgeable in the ways of pitchers, told Green about Nordsieck, “He was wildly accurate.”
By the time he was 12, Nordsieck was already throwing rocks farther than his dad.
Born in Rupert, Nordsieck is the son of Craig Nordsieck of Boise and Abbie Nordsieck of Hailey. He has two brothers, 15-year-old Chris, a Wood River sophomore, and 10-year-old Deegan, who lives in Boise. He also has a sister, Mia, 2.
While young, Alec moved frequently with his family, from Gooding to San Diego to Idaho Falls, and then came to Hailey Elementary School in the middle of his fourth grade year when his mother got a job at the Hailey Post Office.
He started playing recreation league basketball when he got to Hailey and was immediately picked for the Select Team by Roy Tinker and John Hollenbeck. He got to know local kids quickly through his obvious athleticism. Indeed, at age 10, he went to Seattle for a Punt-Pass-Kick contest and was surpassing 13-14 year olds.
Nordsieck remembers not quite seeing eye-to-eye with classmate Gunner Gibson back in fourth grade. “We got into a fight at recess,” he said, laughing. “Then we started playing football together and he liked it when I threw a pass to him.”
Gibson and Nordsieck went on to become one of the most prolific passing combinations in Wolverine football annals, and good friends as well. They have pushed each other to become, in Nordsieck’s words, “bigger, faster and stronger.”
Nordsieck, 18, plans to be busy this winter and spring with his basketball and baseball responsibilities for Wood River, all the while looking to play football in college. Long range, he’d like to coach or administer sports, or become involved in sports medicine.
Stilling said, “The biggest thing about Alec is how he has learned to manage his body language because he has realizes how others respond to that. He is a leader. A switch flipped between his sophomore and junior year, and he was in the weight room constantly. He knows what it takes to win.”
“I think he would be a great coach because of the leadership he displays on the field. He’s such a dynamic person. Wherever he ends up going to school and playing football, he’ll be successful.”
Mountain Express “Athletes of the Year”
2015 marks the 38th time the Idaho Mountain Express has named an Athlete of the Year. Selected have been 18 women and 21 men.
2015—Alec Nordsieck, WRHS football, basketball and baseball star
2014—Kaitlyn Farrington, Olympic women’s snowboard halfpipe gold medalist
2013—Melissa Arnot, mountain climber, a non-Sherpa record five times summiting Mt. Everest
2012—Miles Fink-Debray, six-time Baldy Hill Climb winner, top-ranked alpine ski racer, mountain bike national champ
2011—Richard Feldman, world champion cyclist
2010—Morgan Arritola, U.S. Olympic Nordic skier and Baldy Hill Climb women’s champion
2009—Ryne Reynoso, WRHS All-State ballplayer and professional baseball pitcher
2008—Brad Mitchell, ultra marathon runner
2007—Mike Sinnott, cross-country ski captain of Dartmouth’s NCAA championship ski team
2006—Rebecca Rusch, adventure athlete, endurance mountain biker
2005—Jeff Bolton, WRHS grad and All-America football player at Montana State University
2004—Vilnis Nikolaisons, Sun Valley Suns hockey star from Latvia
2003—Kitty Marcroft, ultra marathon runner
2002—Adrienne Leugers, nine-time Baldy Hill Climb women’s winner
2001—Kelly Wardell, the world’s best bareback bronc rider
2000—Sondra Van Ert, 10-time national snowboard champion and 2000 Grand Prix alpine winner
1999—Steve Born, RAAM cross-country bicycle racer
1998—Muffy Davis, slalom bronze medalist at the 1998 Paralympics
1997—Bob Sarchett, masters alpine skier and softball player
1996—Greg Taylor, seven-time Ironman Triathlon finisher
1995—Aleene Gibson, cross-country bicyclist
1994—Picabo Street, 1994 Olympic women's downhill silver medalist
1993—Muffy Ritz, RAAM cross-country bicycle racer
1992—Gabriele Andersen, world-class runner and cross-country skier
1991—Dave Fauth, baseball and softball player
1990—Ruthie Matthes, world-class bicycle racer
1989—Charley French, masters' champion triathlete
1988—E.J. Holcomb, Great American Ski Chase queen
1987—Katrin Tobin, world-class bicycle racer, and brother Michael Tobin, Pike's Peak climber
1986—Jerry Engelbert, world champion powerlifter
1985—Jane (Magoo) McGloin, Ketchum's sunny sports enthusiast
1984—Loren Adkins, nationally ranked bicyclist, skier and hill climber in the 75-79 age class
1983—Monte Brothwell, Idaho's top marathon runner
1982—Lisa Bernhagen, WRHS state champion prep track and field performer
1981—Tom Schnebeck, Bald Mountain Rugby Football Club player
1980—Carol Levine, alpine ski racer and softball player
1979—Phil Hoene, Sun Valley Suns hockey center
1978—Dr. Lynn "Buck" Levy, pacesetting marathon runner
1977—Christin Cooper, promising U.S. Ski Team alpine racer