BY ADAM ROGAN
“In preschool I was four feet tall. My growth happened when I was three.”
Being “the tall kid” has been always been a part of sophomore Nick McGlynn’s life. From a young age, he’s been consistently nagged by the question: “I’m so sorry; how tall are you?”
The answer is 6-foot-8. And yes, he can dunk. And yes, he plays basketball for Drake University.
“It’s something you just have to embrace, sometimes. You can’t let it bother you. Just let it be part of your identity,” McGlynn said. “…I don’t think it’s enough to get upset about. I almost envy the normalcy of a ‘normal height’.”
Even if he’s gotten used to how often people inquire about his stature, he’s been trying to expand his reputation in the last few years.
In high school, McGlynn wrote for the student newspaper, sang in the school choir and learned to play guitar — a diversion he still pursues.
Sometimes his attempts to be something other than the tall guy backfired. He became ‘The tall guy at the student newspaper’ or ‘the tall guy who sings,’ rather than just somebody with hobbies and talents who just so happens to have to duck to fit through some doorways.
Since coming to Drake in fall 2015, McGlynn has worked to develop his professional skills. As a digital media production major, he hopes to someday work behind the camera rather than as the subject competing on the court.
“I do like the idea of being a producer or director one day, of anything from news to sports or entertainment,” McGlynn said.
In addition to video journalism and playing guitar, he’s taken an interest in creative writing, partially thanks to the English classes he’s taken at Drake.
Staying busy is important to his daily life. Being carefree wears McGlynn down.
“If you stay in the mundane routine of waking up, going to class, going to basketball, going back to bed, and then eating sometime during the day, it becomes a routine. It becomes dragging. I’ve never, ever been able to survive a schedule like that. I get totally uninterested in everything. I just shut down mentally and physically because it’s just exhausting,” McGlynn said. “…It keeps me feeling like I’m still a human and not like a robot.”
Even with these other pursuits, basketball might still have something to offer post-college. The NBA might not be a possibility — McGlynn would be one of the shortest centers in the league — but he says that there are “thousands” of opportunities in European leagues that he might be able to find a spot in.
“If I could play professional basketball one day, that’d be pretty nice,” McGlynn said. “… Maybe I could get lucky (in Europe). But, ultimately, I was raised to focus on what I can do with my academics first. I’ve got a good head on my shoulders there.”
It wouldn’t be the first time he’s traveled for basketball. Growing up in Stoughton, Wisconsin, just southeast of Madison, he’d play across the Midwest with travel teams when he was a teenager.
Some of the players he had to guard would actually be taller than him, over seven feet. But when he played for his high school team, McGlynn would sometimes be the tallest player by five inches.
His size has offered a balance of benefits and pests. Getting asked the same question over and over may quickly become irritating, but he’s also able to dunk over NCAA basketball players, which has helped McGlynn play at Drake. And it’s got to be fun to throw one down in front of a roaring Knapp Center Crowd.