Wallace had a scary episode during an offseason workout in February of 2021.
He didn’t eat that day, got no sleep the night before and was battling an illness.
Despite that fact, Wallace tried to go on with his day, which included working out. While working out, he got light-headed and experienced dizziness and collapsed.
He said head football coach Clint Hartman and defensive coordinator Frank Maldonado picked him up, put him on a cart and brought him to immediate medical attention in the trainer’s room.
That was the last thing he remembered.
Wallace was sent to Midland Memorial Hospital and was later airlifted to Covenant Children’s Hospital in Lubbock. He woke up after being in a coma for five days.
“It was Super Bowl Sunday when I woke up, so that’s how I remember it,” Wallace said. “I didn’t really know. I was confused because I just remember passing out on a Wednesday. I remember it was a Wednesday and then Sunday I woke up and I was watching the Super Bowl. It messed me up a little bit because I didn’t really understand. It was a five-day thing. I’m good now. I’m happy to be here.”
And the Rebels are happy too, as Wallace has since overcome the ordeal and will start his sixth game at center when Legacy (2-3) visits Frenship (4-1) for its District 2-6A opener at 7 p.m. Friday at Peoples Bank Stadium in Wolfforth.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Wallace is playing the sport he loves after sitting out his entire junior season. He said was cleared to play for this season after doctors couldn’t figure out why he had his scary health episode during a workout. But he attributes the incident to his poor nutrition and a lack of sleep.
Wallace also feels fortunate that he is of sound health and doesn’t have any brain damage after being in a coma. Wallace says his heart stopped beating at one point.
He thanks Hartman and Maldonado for saving his life.
“I was a religious person before,” Wallace said. “I trusted in God and I trusted in the process. I have a good coach, I have a good team around me. Good coaches. They’re all going to take care of me. When I came back, they didn’t give up on me. (Offensive line coach Boe Smith) didn’t give up on me. Nobody gave up on me. None of the coaches. Not even my teammates.
“They kept pushing me to be a better human and when I got cleared, I’m in the position that I am now so I just thanked them for that. I learned that family and that stuff is important. Other teams they wouldn’t do this. They stuck with me, made sure I was all right, made sure I was good. They made sure I was all right like Coach Hartman and them. That’s what I learned is just to have faith and trust the process.”
Trusting the process worked out on Aug. 26 when the Rebels needed a center after Jaxon Alexander transferred back to Midland Christian.
Wallace found out during the athletic period that he would be starting at center later that night in Legacy’s season opener against Amarillo High.
Hartman says Wallace is a great kid who lights up a room when he walks in.
“You always want to see a kid that has a smile on his face even in tough times, that’s Nigel,” Hartman said. “He’s the class clown in the locker room and then he’s the good kid that goes in your classroom and makes your class better. He’s also the kid in the hallway that will help you if a kid is getting out of hand. He’s everything that you want in being a student athlete/football player. Even last year when he couldn’t play, he never missed a practice. He always here. He was a good teammate and then he really busted his tail in the offseason when he got healthy to come back and work hard.”
Wallace says he doesn’t even feel deprived about losing his junior season because he became a stronger person because of it.
“I feel like it was a year of me getting better and developing character because in football you have to have high character and still have your mental toughness,” Wallace said. “I feel like it was a building moment for me, not physical but mental. I feel like I didn’t really lose anything there. I feel like if anything, I gained. I feel like I have a lot of football in me.”
And now Wallace has his sights on helping the Rebels start off district with a win in their quest to capture a share of a fifth-straight district championship.
“I just want to let people know that we’re not done,” Wallace said. “People can say we’re 2-3 and this and that, but I really don’t care. They don’t know what we do behind these walls. We grind every day. I love my teammates for it. That builds character. These coaches put in 100% every day. They miss time with their families to be with us and that stuff goes a long way and that explains a lot. I feel like we can dominate this district and we can really do it.”
Follow Christopher on Twitter: @chris_MRTsports
LEGACY AT FRENSHIP
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday, Peoples Bank Stadium, Wolfforth
Radio: KCRS 95.5 FM/97.5 FM/550 AM
Online: www.midlandisdsports-rebels.com/broadcasts or Midland ISD athletics app
Records: Legacy 2-3, 0-0; Frenship 4-1, 0-0
Last game: Converse Judson 60, LHS 50 (Sept. 23); FHS 56, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland 52 (Sept. 23)
Last meeting/series: LHS beat Frenship 68-28 in 2021 to improve to 5-1.
What to watch
–LHS head coach Clint Hartman says his team is eager to start district after it had a bye week following two losses to San Antonio area powers Cibolo Steele (35-28 in OT) and Judson. The Rebels last won on Sept. 9 with a 56-20 win over Abilene High.
–The Rebels hope to start better after falling behind 47-0 to Judson. LHS outscored Judson 50-13 the rest of the game behind four TD passes and a rushing TD from Marcos Davila but the hole was too deep to crawl out of.
–The Tigers beat New Mexico’s defending state champion in their final non-district game behind a 440-yard passing performance from Hudson Hutcheson. Hutcheson has completed 72.3% of his passes this year and has a deep receiving corps.