By Craig Beilfuss

MUSKEGON—The Muskegon Big Reds athletic department, school and community took a few moments on Saturday evening in between the junior varsity and varsity basketball games against Grand Blanc to honor Al Nichols, a 1961 Big Reds graduate and former basketball all-state Detroit Free Press 1960 selection.

Nichols played three years of varsity basketball at Muskegon and was a co-captain on the 1960 team and a captain on the 1961 team.

He later played semi-pro basketball for the Muskegon Panthers of the North American Basketball League during the 1967-68 season.

Nichols was born in Chicago and raised in Muskegon.

He is a product of the Muskegon Public School system, where he attended Nelson Elementary, Nelson Jr. High and Muskegon High School.

The former Big Red athlete had perfect attendance for six years without being absent, tardy or late from his seventh grade year until graduation.

Nichols was the first African American to have his name inscribed on the Clayton L. Beach Athletic Cup for Boys and Muskegon High School.

The former educational administrator graduated from Muskegon in June of 1961. He would go on and attend Colorado State University on a full ride scholarship, where he became a starting point guard on the basketball team. Nichols obtained his Associates and Bachelors degree’s from CSU.

The 1961 graduate went on to do his post graduate work at Western Michigan University, where he majored in english, speech and journalism. From there he went to Eastern Michigan University and got his master’s degree in educational administration on June 5, 1971.

Nichols is a recipient of Mott Fellowship, Mott Foundation Program in Flint (1971) and he continued his post graduate work, attending Central Michigan University in 1993.

The former teacher, coach and administrator retired in 2007 after serving in three school districts over the course of 32 years.

He spent the bulk of his educational career in the Baldwin Community Schools as the elementary principal for 20 years, after having got his start in Denver, Colorado for three years. Nichols finished his career at Muskegon Heights where he spent nine years.

Al has been married to Troycie Nichols for 48 years and they have five children; Andrei, D’Erika, Kenneth, Jabari and Durand.