On Saturday, Jan. 31 Northwest’s championship celebration was cut short when the campus learned of the tragic news regarding junior defensive end Nicholas C. Turner.
Turner was found dead in his campus residence hall Sunday afternoon. The cause of death has not been determined. Police suspect there was no foul play involved. Turner’s death is now under investigation by the Nodaway County coroner’s office, Maryville Public Safety and University Police.
Monday evening Northwest students, family and fellow teammates gathered in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom in remembrance of Turner’s life. The entire Northwest football team walked into the room together, followed by President John Jasinski escorting Tuner’s mother. The sudden death of Turner not only impacted the Northwest campus, but the Northwest family as a whole. Former Northwest athletes were also in attendance.
Jasinski first spoke on Turner’s behalf. At first, Jasinski was at a loss for words because this has been the second student death in two weeks. Jasinski preached the motto of “find a way,” the mantra the Bearcat football team used in route to a fifth national title this season.
After Jasinski was done speaking, head football coach Adam Dorrel came up to also speak. For a large portion of the event, the room had a somber feel to it, but there was a moment where the room lifted in spirit. That came when Dorrel shared a pleasant memory he had about Turner. Dorrel had some kind words to say about his defensive end.
“Nick had ups and downs,” Dorrel said. “He was happy and excited where we had been and where we were going, he gave all of us so much.”
Turner attended Hazelwood East High School and during his time there he excelled in all phases of being a student athlete. Turner was recognized for his excellence on the field, as he was awarded all-conference honors two times. Turner was also elected as a team captain during his junior and senior seasons.
After high school, Turner came to Northwest in 2013, where he redshirted. After a full season of acclimating himself to the Northwest campus, Turner became a valuable contributor for the Bearcats.
On and off the football field, Turner contributed to a positive environment the Northwest football program holds dearly.
“He never gave up, he was always positive in the locker room,” defensive end Cass Weitl said. “He really made the most of his opportunities, especially when they moved him to the defensive line. Being able to come out and play your first year after moving positions is big and it’s really hard to do for most people.”
In the process of switching positions, Turner truly demonstrated the mantra of “find a way.”
During Northwest’s championship campaign, Turner provided outstanding depth to his fellow defensive starters. In limited playing time, he accumulated 22 total tackles, 7 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. In Northwest’s National Championship victory Turner recorded 1 tackle for a four-yard loss.
When it was announced that Turned had died, Northwest not only lost a good football player, they lost an even better person.
In an email that Jasinski sent out to the Northwest family Tuesday, he talked about the importance of embracing others and appreciating them for who they are. In a time of tragedy, Northwest students should use Turner’s way of life as a prime example in conducting theirs.