Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


From tennis to football: Nick Salmon’s journey as an Australian athlete

The Victoria-native played professional tennis and was nationally-ranked at 14-years-old.
Erika Fletcher
While tennis has been in his lineage, freshman punter Nick Salmon also played Australian Rules Football at 12-years-old and again at 15, winning national titles both times. In this photo, Salmon is pictured holding a tennis racket and the Australian Football League (AFL) football.

Freshman Nick Salmon grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and attended Xavier College. After playing tennis competitively for seven years, he made the switch to football, where he has found himself as the starting holder for the Florida Atlantic Owls football team. 

Salmon’s role on special teams as the holder has him receiving the snaps from the long snapper during field goal or extra point attempts. 

Before playing football, Salmon played tennis all throughout his youth and into his teens. 

“Both my parents played tennis when they were younger, and my brother was actually the captain at Rice University last spring. As a family we played all throughout my youth,” Salmon said.

Salmon competed in the International Tennis Federation in his tennis career, was listed in the Top 10 Sports Governing Bodies by iWorkinSport, and became a ranked player at 14 years old. 

“I stopped playing tennis competitively when I was about 15 to focus more on Australian football,” said Salmon on the transition from tennis to American football. “I played Australian football up until I was 18, and then I started to come, but the transition from Australian football to American football has been pretty seamless. There’s no comparison besides you punting the ball that’s really the only comparison for me. The transition has been really good because the program I did back home really helps you develop and transition to come over here.” 

After leaving behind tennis after seven years, Salmon focused predominantly on Australian football in hopes of being recruited by a school in the United States. Salmon represented Victoria in Australian football as a 12-year-old and again as a 15-year-old, winning a national title in both years. 

ProKick Australia is well known in the United States for developing some of the best punters and kickers and helping them learn how to compete. Their founder, Nathan Chapman, played in the Australian Football League for eight years. 

Salmon had ProKick on his radar since he was 16, keeping it in the back of his mind if Australian football didn’t work out. In the middle of 2021, Salmon joined ProKick with Chapman as his coach. Chapman recalls Salmon being a relatively steady player, which he appreciated.

“His composure, he has a really nice temperament that is what you need as a punter. He was unstoppable in the way he went about his business and wasn’t over emotional and wasn’t too boring,” said Chapman.

Traveling over 9,700 miles from Melbourne to Boca Raton does not come without its challenges.

“Definitely the humidity, it’s pretty hot. Where I lived in Australia, the climate is pretty stable throughout the whole year, whereas up north it’s more like Florida. But I live down south, so it does get hot in the summer back home. It’s not like here, so I’d say that is probably the biggest difference,” said Salmon.

FAU head football coach Tom Herman highly regarded Salmon at his Sept. 11 press conference. 

“Nick was from a long-standing relationship with ProKick. You call Johnny or Chappy down there in Australia and say, ‘Hey man, we need a punter. Who do you got?’ And we certainly do recruit high school and junior college punters, as well, but you know that relationship with Johnny and Chappy in Australia started years ago,” said Herman. 

When the time came to commit to a school, Salmon said the decision was easy for him.

“I’d say definitely Coach Lunsford and Coach Herman, and their recruiting process were very welcoming. It certainly seemed like they wanted to have me, so it was a pretty easy decision for me, and also, obviously, where it is, it’s pretty nice. I don’t think you can get anywhere nicer in America, and the guy that was here before me, Riley Thompson, he spoke really highly of it as well, and he said you should definitely come over here,” said Salmon on why he chose FAU. 

Special teams coordinator Chad Lunsford has been Salmon’s coach since Salmon’s arrival at FAU. 

“I think he is very mature,” Lunsford said on what Salmon is like off the field. “He’s got his priorities straight, really doing a nice job in his academics. You know, you can tell for him that life is bigger than just football. He’s got big goals in front of him in football and also in his personal life.”

After coming to FAU to play American football competitively for the first time, all expectations from Herman were on improving throughout the year. 

“He’s gotten better,” stated Herman. “It was a little unfair for anyone to expect him to come in and start right away; the fact that he has gotten better, he’s much more comfortable with bodies around him, you know, punting and all of that. We’re excited for his future and the length of time that we get him for. We are really happy to see each and every week his improvement level.” 

Courtney Kemper is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected] or @courtneykemperr on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Erika Fletcher
Erika Fletcher, Lead Photographer
Erika is a junior majoring in multimedia studies with a minor in photography. She loves shooting sports and street photography and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, skateboarding, playing soccer, listening to music, and being with her friends and family. She joined the UP on a whim to make new friends and to get better at photography. In her time here, while not long, she's made connections and learned so much about herself already and can't wait to continue her journey with such great people.

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