Ronan Nelson

Encinitas, CA

University of San Diego

International Business – Spring 2019

Ronan was born in Okinawa, Japan when his Marine dad and nurse mom were stationed there. The family eventually settled down in Encinitas, California and Ronan started playing soccer and, at the age of 10, learned rugby, inspired by his Irish family.  As a high school freshman, he gave up soccer for football and rugby becoming the first freshman in varsity rugby in his high school’s history. On April 7, 2012, Ronan’s life changed forever during a rugby game. In one play gone wrong, Ronan was tackled and his C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae were crushed, causing a spinal cord injury. During surgery to repair the trauma done to his vertebrae, Ronan had a stroke causing temporary blindness. Although he regained his sight, he is still paralyzed from the middle of his chest down. Being forced to the sideline Ronan worked hard at his rehabilitation but wanted to return to the game he loved, so he started coaching for his high school and club team followed up by a position at UCLA. Ronan is the second Swim With Mike scholarship recipient to attend UCLA.

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