UW Health Sports Medicine 

Always a defender: UW's Nichols halts suspect in downtown robbery


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The traditional tackle from behind thats common in American football is not something that a soccer player usually wants to be caught doing.

athid=6603&deptid=122"> --> Aaron Nichols avoids tackles like that on soccer field, but that doesnt mean he was afraid to lean on his high school football experience in order to perform a positive act of citizenship and stop a crime.

Nichols, a sophomore defender on the University of Wisconsin mens soccer team, was walking home from the University Bookstore last Wednesday (Jan. 28) when he noticed a suspicious man franticly running down Gilman Street in downtown Madison.

I was on the phone with my girlfriend, actually, when I noticed a guy sprinting towards me, Nichols said. He kept running and he wasnt stopping. A girl was chasing him and all she had on was a t-shirt and pants but no jacket.

I immediately thought the worst, like maybe he had stolen something or harmed her.

Nichols asked the woman if the running man had stolen something and she said yes. He reacted quickly, hanging up his cell phone to begin chasing the man. As the man turned on the corner of State and Gilman streets and headed toward the state capitol, it was not long before Nichols used his athleticism to bring the suspicious man down to the pavement.

I threw my bag and phone as I tackled him to the ground in front of Hawks and Coldstone (Creamery), Nichols said. The guy was so startled, I dont think he realized that I was chasing him from behind.

Once I got him to the ground he was looking up at me really scared and then, within about 10 seconds, a bunch of police officers showed up.

The woman, who had been chasing the suspicious man for a few minutes, was a Sports World employee. It turns out that Nichols instincts regarding the mans frenzied behavior were correct.

As the police took over, the woman (still only in her t-shirt) explained to Nichols that she was working when the middle-aged man attempted to walk out of the Sports World on State Street with a jacket valued at $350.

View the official incident report from the Madison Police Department id=9672"> --> here .

After a few minutes, Nichols modestly left the scene and headed home. As he was walking back towards Gilman Street, the owner of Sports World, who had witnessed the capture from afar, took Nichols aside and asked him a rather ironic question.

The owner said to me, `That was one heck of a tackle, do you play football here said Nichols, a few seasons removed from a football career at Marian Central Catholic High School in his native Woodstock, Ill. I replied with, `No I actually play soccer.

It was pretty funny because I used to play football in high school, but obviously I dont anymore.

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