Passion becomes career for former football player

Courtesy Photo /
Former GVSU athlete Nick Lawrence

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Former GVSU athlete Nick Lawrence

Zach Sepanik

Nick Lawrence was just another collegiate student-athlete with big dreams when he graduated from Grand Valley State University in December 2010 and stepped foot into the real world, but Lawrence has turned those dreams into a reality after opening his own business.

On Aug. 2, Lawrence opened his own store, Hyzer’s, at 4150 Lake Michigan Dr., focusing on one of his greater passions, disc golf. The store has a wide variety of items including a full range of golf discs and supplies, as well as blown glass, electronic cigarettes and other smoking-related products.

Lawrence played football for GVSU before graduating.

“Football was something I enjoyed doing but it wasn’t everything I was about,” Lawrence said. “I love disc golfing. It is one of the most relaxing past times, inexpensive, that sort of thing.”

Disc golfing is very similar to golf itself. Just like in real golf when you use different irons, different discs are required to make various shots and distances. And Lawrence’s thinking is appropriate considering how many students that attend GVSU, there are sure to be many avid disc golfers.

“Being able to find the right disc that you want, or need, is important so having a wide selection of discs and brands is the most important things about a disc golf shop,” said Noah Jansen-Yee, a junior at GVSU who enjoys disc golf. “I like to play so much because it is an inexpensive, fun, outdoor activity that you could really get going in.”

Lawrence graduated from GVSU with a degree in communications and philosophy and numerous accolades from his time as a defensive lineman for GVSU.

“He was very passionate about the game,” said Mitchell, who coached Lawrence for three years as GVSU’s defensive coordinator. “That’s who he is. He played with a lot of reckless abandon and is a little more of a free spirit when it comes to football and life a little bit too.”

Lawrence graduated in 2005 from Brighton High School, where he starred as a linebacker. That fall he received a full-ride scholarship from Bowling Green State University, where he was redshirted his freshman year. His second season at Bowling Green saw him take on a limited role, prompting Lawrence to think about what really was his best fit in terms of college football.

“It’s hard to turn down a full scholarship to a D-I school,” Lawrence said. “But ultimately I wanted to go to a place where there is more winning. I knew a lot of people at Grand Valley and they thought it would be a good fit for me.”

Lawrence transferred to GVSU in 2008 and was welcomed with open arms by then-head coach Chuck Martin. Mitchell was the defensive coordinator at the time and saw numerous flashes of potential.

“We felt like for him to have the most success we could move him to the defensive line,” Mitchell said. “He trusted us and kept working hard and was a very dedicated kid. Even though we came up a little bit short last year he was one of our main leaders on defense in his play.”

Lawrence earned Division II All-Conference defensive end honors in his time at GVSU and was awarded Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2010 for GVSU football.

Meanwhile, the passion that Mitchell described has carried over well for Lawrence in his life after football, primarily in his new line of work as a business owner.

And for Mitchell, the translation between football and business was a smooth transition when it came to Lawrence.

“It doesn’t surprise me. The fact that he opened up and got something going, it didn’t come totally out of left field for me,” said Mitchell. “Passion, desire, work ethic; there is no substitute for that stuff.”

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