NOTHING SHORT OF A “MERRICKLE”: SPX alum has taken Panthers boys soccer to new heights
When Nick Merricks graduated from St. Pius X High School in 2009, the boys soccer program's lone achievement was a 2006 district championship.
Since Merricks returned to coach his alma mater in 2014, the Panthers added another district title banner to the wall back in 2015.
"Expectations were low the year we won district," Merricks said. "But our team was ready and trusted us from day one, so we picked up momentum early and never looked back. That was a special group of guys that deserved that accomplishment. I was happy to help them reach it."
But just hanging another district banner on the wall is quite frankly the smallest of the accomplishments since he's taken over.
In 2017, St. Pius X finished second in state, advancing to the program's first-ever trip to the TAPPS Division I Final Four. In 2018, the Panthers reached the TAPPS Final Four for a second-straight season.
"The first time we reached a Final Four was the same year we went to the State Championship," Merricks said. "That year had so many big moments. To be able to get there for the first time in school history and not settle, but improve upon it, something I will never forget."
When Merricks took over, the former Panther had a lot of respect for the previous head coach, who he considered a "mentor and good friend".
That has made this run of success even more special.
"For him to have trusted me with the program and to have accomplished all we have is special," Merricks said. "Competing at a statewide level and being one of the last four teams in your state is something I'm really proud of our players for doing."
Merricks arrived at St. Pius X in his junior season. He would go on to play soccer his junior and senior year before graduating. Merricks did go on to attend the University of Houston but did not play soccer there.
The former Panther considered St. Pius X a "second home" for him while he was attending, which has made the rise of the boys soccer program that much more meaningful.
"The growth and consistency of the program is something my assistant, Gerry Lopez, and I are very proud of," Merricks said. "Those two things have always been an important part of what we have tried to accomplish."