NEVADA UNION ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017: Patrick Birdsong
Patrick Birdsong always enjoyed the excitement that came with Friday night football at Nevada Union High School.
“One of my favorite memories of NU football is walking out to the band playing and full stands of people screaming and cheering along with the fog horn,” Birdsong said. “Pure Friday night lights.”
It was also pretty exciting when he had the ball in his hands as well.
The 1986 graduate was an impressive ball carrier in his day and one of Nevada Union’s first running backs to break the 1,000 yard mark in a season.
On the gridiron, Birdsong helped the Miners win a pair of league titles. As a junior, he earned All-League Second Team honors and was an All-Metro honorable mention. After his 1,000 yard senior season, he was All-League First Team and All-Metro First Team.
He credits his coaches at Nevada Union for bringing out the best in him during that time.
“Never give up and never doubt yourself. Coach (Randy) Blankenship did a good job of instilling that in us,” Birdsong said. “(Blankenship) did a lot for me. All my coaches at Nevada Union did a lot for me, but Blankenship really brought a lot out of me.”
Birdsong’s athletic prowess wasn’t limited to the football field. He was also a strong wrestler and an elite track and field athlete.
On the mat, Birdsong was ranked fifth in the Sac-Joaquin section in his weight class. On the track, he helped the Miners win the league championship as a team.
In 1986, Birdsong was awarded the Albert Ali Athlete of the Year Award for all his efforts. He will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday.
After high school, Birdsong attended Sierra College where he played running back as a freshmen, but shifted to defensive back his sophomore season. He took to the position incredibly well and earned a scholarship to Sacramento State, where he played football, ran track and played rugby.
After college, Birdsong did some coaching at Sacramento State and Yuba College. He eventually became a Sacramento educational leader and school principal, a position he’s held for the past 15 years. He said his path to working with young people started on the fields at Nevada Union.
“The coaches that I had coming up as a young man, at Nevada Union especially, they were an asset for me,” he said. “I had a stepdad, but I didn’t really have that father-figure bond, and a lot of the coaches took that bond on. Whether it was coach Ostrom, coach Blankenship or coach (Gary) Sharpe, they did a good job of giving me that support and encouraging me to do things. So, I’ve always felt like I wanted to give back to kids as an adult and make sure they had that same feeling coming up.”
Birdsong said he is proud and humbled to be included in the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame and would like to thank his mother, his coaches and the Wheeler family for the support they gave him throughout his days at Nevada Union.
“I just want to say that I’m really honored and thankful to be a part of this induction class,” he said. “I just look at the people going in, who did phenomenal things, and feel blessed to be joining them.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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