(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) - With the dangerous ‘NekNomination’ craze sweeping the globe, a group of StFX student-athletes have opted to be leaders rather than followers.
Putting a positive spin on a now viral online drinking game, several X-Men and X-Women have chosen to start their own game. Rather than participate in the original craze that sees young people nominate friends to complete dangerous drinking challenges, StFX student-athletes have helped lead the way on campus with a new craze of their own – ‘NiceNominations’.
To complete a ‘NiceNomination’, students complete a random act of kindness, film their good deed, and nominate a few friends of their own to carry on the movement. The video is then shared online.
Fourth-year women’s rugby lock Emma Taylor says the NiceNomination craze began among StFX student-athletes when her teammate Ellen Murphy received a NekNomination from a friend and opted to turn it into a NiceNomination. Murphy completed her nomination by sending a letter to troops overseas before proceeding to nominate Taylor.
"I then delivered 300 Jolly Ranchers throughout the library to studying students," explained Taylor. She then nominated Shane Coupland from the X-Men basketball team and friend Maris Miller from the X-Women’s soccer team.
For her good deed, Miller made her way to the school gym, passing out water bottles with motivational quotes written on them to gym goers. She then nominated a soccer teammate from there.
Coupland, a fourth-year forward and business student, enlisted the local Tartan Taxi cab company to help with his NiceNomination. He prepaid for five cab rides and had a taxi offer free trips to their next five customers.
Teammate Jordan Tyrell and X-Men football player Demetrius Ferguson were then NiceNominated by Coupland. Tyrell delivered baked goods to the staff at a favourite restaurant in town, while Ferguson did a lap of the local Sobeys, passing out flowers to shoppers.
Given the tight 24-hour timeline participants are given to complete their NiceNomination, the movement grew swiftly and exponentially from there.
"I nominated Lia St. Pierre from X-Women basketball and Mathieu MacDonald from X-Men basketball," explained Tyrell. "The two of them went to Tim Hortons and bought two of those big cartons of coffee, some Tim Bits and some muffins and went around the Oland Centre giving them out."
A second-year guard and human kinetics student, Tyrell says that while people might find NekNominations fun, he and his fellow student-athletes recognized the danger and the peer pressure involved.
"As student-athletes and leaders in our community, it’s our responsibility to step up and make a change in a way that can have a positive impact on the people around us," he said. "That’s basically what the NiceNomination movement is all about."
X-Men defensive back and business student Demetrius Ferguson echoed these sentiments. "We just wanted to influence others to be kind and to do this the right way," he said. "We know that athletes have a big role in the university environment and we hoped that if we started promoting positive messages that others would do the same."
Ferguson nominated student-athletes from the men’s soccer and track and field teams. His nominees passed the torch to two men’s and women’s hockey players, who themselves nominated more X-Men football players, women’s basketball players, StFX cross country runners and so forth.
The movement’s reach spread so far as to reach StFX athletic director Leo MacPherson, who this past weekend uploaded a video of himself completing his NiceNomination at the Oland Centre. MacPherson gave hockey tickets and hoodie to a dedicated StFX fan and then handed out G2 sports drinks to everyone working out in the gym.
The StFX athletics head honcho then nominated two of his own staff members to carry on the craze.
"StFX University came out with a strong stance against NekNominations and our student-athletes decided to take it a step further and promote ‘NiceNominations’," said MacPherson. "I'm proud of our student-athletes for championing the ‘NiceNomination’ and for demonstrating how much good can take place when we work together to benefit our community."
"We know and are constantly reinforcing the fact that our student-athletes are leaders," said Atlantic University Sport executive director Phil Currie. "To see such a prime example of these young people going against the grain to do something good, that really makes me proud."
For links to several NiceNomination videos, visit the AUS Facebook page at facebook.com/AtlanticUniversitySport.