That booming yell from the dugout — Wesley Nixon has heard it before. Usually when he “forgets” to wash the dishes like he was told.
That stern glare? It’s the same when Wesley changes his hairstyle.
And that competitiveness? Wesley sees it whenever his family tries to play board games together.
“If I don’t do the dishes or something, then you hear this coach’s voice come out of my dad,” Wesley said with a laugh. “And it’s loud and aggressive.”
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Fortunately for Wesley, he doesn’t have to run sprints for not washing dishes correctly.
For the most part, his mom and dad keep their coaching to their Fife High School diamonds — Shane Nixon as Wesley’s baseball coach and Michelle Nixon coaching on the adjacent field as Fife’s softball coach.
It’s Wesley’s last season playing for his father before moving on to Pacific Lutheran University to play football.
But how surreal that will be next year — when there’s not a Nixon at every turn.
Fife is life for the Nixons. Shane is not only Wesley’s baseball coach, he was also his offensive coordinator on the football team and Fife’s athletic director. Wesley’s brother, Alex, also roams Fife’s hallways as a sophomore there and is on the track and field team.
And when Wesley helped Fife’s baseball team reach Yakima for the 2A state semifinals last spring for the first time in school history, his mom’s team was about seven miles up the road playing in the state softball semifinals.
“You get a sense that this is Nixon season,” Wesley said. “That your parents run this season.
“Everyone knows this is our sport.”
But Wesley’s sport?
He led Fife’s football team in all-purpose yards — 689 rushing, 617 receiving and 20 total touchdowns — in the fall. Then he tried out for the boys swimming team (after playing three years of basketball). Now he’s batting leadoff and playing center field for the baseball team — and he’s Fife’s ASB activities coordinator.
Wesley plans to play slot receiver at PLU in the fall, but said he’ll also try out for baseball.
So with all that, how many Nixon family dinners are there?
“Probably once or twice a week,” Michelle said. “It’s tough. Sometimes you have to force it on them because there is so much going on.”
And forget about Nixon family game nights. Those got nixed.
Shane learned his lesson when he and Michelle tried playing some card games together early in their marriage.
“We would play Skip Bo, and I’m just like Wes — I’m not going to let people win,” Shane said. “We would get to the point where we would be arguing with each other, and it just wasn’t fun.
“So we don’t have game nights in our home. That’s not a Nixon tradition because Wes gets mad if one of his brothers wins and I get mad if Michelle wins and one of his younger brothers gets mad if Wes wins.”
But sports have come easier. Wes said he’s had a baseball mitt for as long as he can remember.
“Right off the bat,” Shane said (no pun intended).
Shane played football and baseball at Thomas Jefferson and Michelle was a softball and basketball player there before moving on to play at Green River Community College. They married during college.
Shane was 24 when Wesley was born, and they were coaching him in a variety of sports from as soon as he was able to participate. Michelle and her father, Fred Fazio, coached Wesley from T-ball up through about the fourth grade.
“But after a while you have to not be a parent doing that, and I just couldn’t do that,” Michelle said.
Wesley also competed in track and field, soccer, football and swimming, and he tried wrestling — sometimes heading to games in multiple sports in one day.
Shane took over the Fife baseball program 15 years ago and earned his 200th career victory against White River on March 31.
But coaching his son was a new challenge. It’s why he let Michelle coach Wesley’s Little League games and allowed himself to be the parent. Wesley is held to higher expectations, and every move Shane makes must be what’s best for the team and not what’s best for his son.
“It was definitely something I had conversations with my assistant coaches about,” Shane said. “It was definitely on my mind. ‘What if he’s not successful? What happens if he’s not the best option and someone says something?’
“But the first game he started his freshman year, he threw a kid out from right field. His abilities proved to everyone that he deserved to be out there.”
As much as Shane and Wesley are around each other, Wesley acknowledges his personality is much closer to his mother’s. They are both exuberant chatterboxes, while Shane is more reserved.
“Him and his mom have a unique relationship. He doesn’t share with me everything he shares with his mom,” Shane said. “But he and I have a bond with athletics. We are both confident in ourselves. And I’m hard-headed and he’s hard-headed, and that’s where I see me in him.”
But his competitiveness comes from both parents.
“His mom, when she’s competing, she’s not the nicest person,” Shane said with a smile. “She’s not just messing round, Ms. Nice Nixon.”
Michelle taught Wesley his throwing mechanics. His outfield arm is one of the more feared in the 2A SPSL now. She sees so much of herself in Wesley.
“I tell Shane that coaching Wesley would be like coaching me,” Michelle said. “It’s fun to watch them together. It’s special to see them and the relationship they’ve created.”
And what they’ve built together with this Fife baseball program.
“The thing we say all the time is we want to go farther than the last team,” Wesley said. “Every year we’ve done better than the team before us.
“We’ve already had so many crazy things together. District champs. Going to Yakima and being the best team Fife has seen. So this year we want to be the best team Fife has seen, again. Go even farther. And just with him, my dad, it’s been even better.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677