Many know who Nick Amado is. He’s the redshirt senior middle blocker on the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team who had the kill that clinched the 49ers’ second NCAA men’s volleyball championship in team history.
“It was just pure bliss in that moment. There’s nothing more I wanted than that at that moment and I can’t really describe the feeling because it was so overwhelming, but it felt good,” Amado said.
But Amado didn’t become a two-time All-American overnight. He had to work his way up.
Amado’s volleyball career began when he was 15 years old, back when he attended Aliso Niguel High School. In addition to playing volleyball, he also played basketball in high school, but chose volleyball after he graduated.
“No one got me into it [volleyball]. There were signups one day, I signed up because it sounded like fun,” Amado said.
After high school, Amado helped his club volleyball team, 949, win gold at the Junior National U-18 championships. He also made the all-tournament team.
After his high school volleyball career, Amado went to Orange Coast Community College, where he played on the men’s volleyball team in 2014 and 2015 and commuted from Aliso Viejo. According to Amado, he said he didn’t have the grades to go to a four-year university after high school.
In 2014, Amado and the Pirates won the team’s first state championship since 1994 with a 20-1 record. Before his sophomore season at Orange Coast, Amado committed to Long Beach State.
“Alan [Knipe] was the only one that came up and talked to me personally. I wanted to go to Long Beach because most of my family is in Southern California,” Amado said. “ Both my mom and my uncle went to Long Beach State, so I felt like it ran in my blood.
Amado also helped Orange Coast overcome an 0-3 start in 2015 en route to a trip to the state final four.
Pirates men’s volleyball coach Travis Turner loved having Amado on the team, saying that he was an extremely good athlete, but an even better person. Turner recalled some memorable moments during his time with Amado.
“One was winning a state title with him. He was a huge part of that team as a freshman, and junior college athletics is rare for freshman to play right away, especially in our program,” Turner said. “The second is the job he did as a captain his second year. He was one of the better captains I had and I think one of his better skills is leadership.”
One of Amado’s teammates at Orange Coast, Colby Cook, has seen Amado play at Long Beach and was thrilled when he scored the championship point against UCLA.
“[Amado] brings so much positive energy anywhere he goes,” Cook said. It seems like he’s a plethora of knowledge even though he’s the same age as me. That guy is so advanced for his age.”
Amado chose to redshirt when arriving to Long Beach in 2016. But the next year, Amado tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in practice.
“At first I was pretty devastated about it, pretty upset, but it’s one of those risks you take playing sports and you have to accept that,” Amado said. “It’s all in your power. You may not be able to control that moment of injury, but you’re able to control how you come back from it.”
In his redshirt junior year, Amado made his mark on the team by recording 139 kills for a .442 hitting percentage, and 109 total blocks (105 block assists and four solo blocks). During that year, Amado garnered AVCA All-American second team, All-Big West second team, VolleyMob third team All-American and was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week.
“Nick is the straw that stirs the drink for us. He’s the emotional, passionate, external leader of our team,” Long Beach men’s volleyball coach Alan Knipe said. “He’s a great teammate and an easy kid to coach.”
Knipe also added that Amado wants to get better and he said he’s made as much progress as any player who has played at Long Beach.
“There’s so much volleyball talent we’ll miss on the court, but more importantly, just not having him in the gym with his personality, his leadership and his positive influence on everybody he comes in contact with,” Knipe said. He’s such and amazing ambassador for our program.”
Senior setter Josh Tuaniga said that Amado is one-of-a-kind and that he also gives out positive energy.
“He’s always fired up, he’s always ready to go and even in moments we’re down, his engine is always going. It’s great to have something like that on the court because it’s easy to feed off of,” Tuaniga said.
After the 2018 season, Amado graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology. He’s currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in public policy and administration.
This season, Amado currently has 163 kills while hitting .534 and has recorded 84 blocks (80 black assists, four solo blocks). His honors this year at the moment include: AVCA All-American second team, All-Big West first team and Big West Defensive Player of the Week.
As this week marks the last of his collegiate volleyball career, Amado isn’t sure about what his future with volleyball looks like. He wants to continue to play volleyball after this year, but he’s just taking it one day at a time.
“I’m just cherishing memories, last moments I have in [Knipe’s] system,” Amado said.
When Amado isn’t playing volleyball, he’s coaching the sport at Balboa Bay Volleyball Club.
As the volleyball season winds down, Amado looks to end his volleyball career with another national championship. His advice to those that are going through tough injuries is to continue to put in the work.
“If you don’t want to kill it in your physical therapy, then you’re not going to come back 100% and you never will be,” Amado said. “You just got to keep pushing. It’s going to suck at first, you’re going to feel bad about yourself, but you can control how you feel, you can control your emotions and if you allow those emotions to fester, it’s not going to turn out well.”