Boys soccer: West Aurora wins game vs. Batavia played to honor Nicely

Updated 9/18/2021 9:13 PM

Kyle Jacob Nicely was everybody's friend.

"That's why so many people appreciated Kyle, because he looked at everybody as his best friend," his mother, Debbie Nicely, said after the immediate family was given two dozen roses from the Batavia soccer program.


Nicely, a former Batavia varsity soccer player, was a 16-year-old high school junior when he died on Sept. 13, 2019.

In remembrance of Nicely at the first memorial match, West Aurora joined Batavia in donning red and gold on their uniforms.

On Saturday, regardless of the ultimate 6-1 Blackhawks victory, an overarching sense of community, humanity and playing more than a game reigned supreme.

"(He) went out of his way to do the right thing and made everybody feel important," Debbie Nicely added. "He loved sports. He did band and he worked hard. Worked jobs at Menards and everywhere else. He was always going."

Nicely's family called him the "Energizer Bunny" -- a nod to his infectious energy and tenacity on the soccer pitch.

"Selfless would be the word," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "He really put everything (into) the team. (He) enjoyed, I think, assists more than goals, at least from my recollection. Very coachable. I think those are things that encapsulates him and his play."

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"Everybody's friend; always had a smile on his face," Gianfrancesco added. "Definitely more of an always positive (person). Always looking at (the) glass half full. The kind of guy where you like being around that type of person."

Ken Nicely, his father, noted the community's collective support has been "amazing through all of this."

West Aurora assistant coach Joe Sustersic said: "We were all Team Kyle. Today, we were playing for Kyle."

Blackhawks coach Kevin Briars, a member of the Batavia community, said, "It's really special to look back and think about a kid that did a lot of great things in school and the community.

"It's good to see people come together as a community ... (for) a good, common cause," Briars added.

Prior to the match, the crowd engaged in a moment of silence. The public address announcer read to the crowd the following:

" ... His passion was playing soccer, whether it was playing varsity soccer with Batavia, TCSA, with the Lightning Bolts or Campton United. His other hobbies included: golfing, biking, cooking, playing music, woodworking, playing games, reffing soccer and playing video games with friends."

"Kyle was a faith-filled, caring, generous, kind, athletic, hardworking, ambitious, funny, responsible and smart. He was fun to be with, someone everyone could count on and a role model for others."

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