It was on Jan. 4, 2014, that Monroe High School hockey player, Mike Nichols, was having a career game when he suffered a paralyzing hit in the third period that would change his life forever.

Nichols, who fractured his C-5 vertebrae leaving him confined to a wheelchair, has always maintained that he would not be held back by that chair; nor would he let it define who he is. He also believes the world needed him in that chair.

(Photo: Mike Nichols)
(Photo: Mike Nichols)

Since then, Nichols has made great strides that few had believed he could accomplish. He overcame a stroke that paralyzed his right side, and he got a driver's license passing a road test to drive a special custom van, which he hopes to one day get. He also works at the high school where he suffered the hit, and is also studying to get a degree.

I spoke with Mike Tuesday night on New Jersey 101.5

What goes through your mind on this day?

This day is always a bit bittersweet. It can be sad at times; but at this point, I just can’t believe it’s been 9 years. It feels so surreal. I was a kid when I got hurt, and now I’m a young man. I’m going to be 27 in April, and that means I’ve spent 1/3 of my life paralyzed; which is mind-blowing to me.

You once said that God meant for you to be in a wheelchair. Do you still feel that way?

Yeah, yeah, I definitely do. Because I've definitely experienced more. And I've grown so much more. I've heard something recently, that 'he puts you in it, and he brings you through it.' It's not even from a religious standpoint. It's just like the plan and things and, that's definitely something that I think has been a continuous belief, in my mind at least, because how else can I look at it, right? If I look at it negatively, I look at it badly. I'm not going to continue to improve and continue to push and I'm not gonna let that happen.


(Photo: Mike Nichols)
(Photo: Mike Nichols)

How have you grown since? What are you now able to do?

I’ve grown emotionally and physically. I’m so much stronger being able to drive, push a manual chair, hold down a consistent job; all things I’ve been told I’d never be able to

What did you learn about yourself?

I’ve learned that the only thing that can stop me is myself. I might be in this chair but the chair is not who I am. I am capable of so much, chair or not.

Do you still believe you’re going to get out of that chair?

One day, I won’t rely on this chair. I may not walk well, but you bet your ass I’ll get back on the ice.


Team Reeve Golf Outing (Photo: Mike Nichols)
Team Reeve Golf Outing (Photo: Mike Nichols)

If anyone can do it, Mike Nichols can; but he needs your help to survive the enormous expenses. The tenth annual Mike Nichols Team Reeve Golf Outing will be taking place August 3, 2023, at the Royce Brook Country Club. For more information or sponsorship opportunities, please contact

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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