Jerren Nixon was born in Switzerland while his father played professional soccer for FC Zürich and later Yverdon-Sport and FC St. Gallen. And his earliest memories are of practicing with his father at the 30,000-seat Letzigrund Stadium in the country's largest city.
Now, after his own soccer career has taken him to the Philadelphia Union Academy and then the University of Virginia, Nixon has joined the Stony Brook men's soccer team as a graduate transfer with an eye toward a professional soccer career of his own in Europe.
Nixon, a 6-foot-5 forward who will pursue an advanced graduate certificate in coaching at Stony Brook, felt comfortable completing his career with the Seawolves in part because of the program's well-established embrace of his Trinidadian roots.
He joined his new teammates for their first spring practice on Tuesday night at the Stony Brook Indoor Training Center.
Nixon played alongside new teammate Kori Cupid on Trinidad's U-20 national team. They are two of four players from that nation on Stony Brook's roster for the spring 2021 season, along with Rondell Payne and Twon Grannum. Head coach Ryan Anatol shares that heritage as well.
"Kori told me a lot of good things about Stony Brook," said Nixon, who had never been to the campus in person until driving up from Atlanta in mid-January. "He said it's a really good school and nice environment."
Nixon's father, Jerren Sr., represented Trinidad and Tobago in 38 international matches, including the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1993 and 2004. He also played for Trinidadian clubs Airport Authority, ECM Motown and North East Stars and Scottish Cup winner Dundee United in addition to eight years in Switzerland.
"Since I was born, I was kicking a ball. At halftime and after my dad's games, I would be on the field kicking the ball and the fans were cheering me on," Nixon recalled about his early years in Switzerland. "The past few years I went back a few times. I remember it vividly. It's home still and the downtown area is really nice. It's a really nice vibe and really peaceful environment."
Nixon's mother Kathy-Ann also represented Trinidad on the national team. Nixon remembers attending her games as she captained Joe Public FC in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League.
Nixon, himself, also played in World Cup qualifiers on the country's U17 team.
The family relocated to Atlanta when Nixon was 12 years old. He attended a couple of years of high school in Georgia before joining the Philadelphia Union Academy and completing his prep schooling at the Major League Soccer club's YSC Academy.
At Virginia, Nixon appeared in 26 matches spanning the 2016, '17 and '19 seasons. He recorded his lone collegiate point in three seasons with the Cavaliers with an assist on a game-tying goal against Lehigh on Oct. 10, 2017.
Nixon had a year of eligibility remaining upon graduating from UVA with a bachelor's degree in American studies because he did not appear during the 2018 season.
"Jerren is a surprisingly quick player for his size, with an exceptional eye for goal," Cupid said. "He's definitely a team player with a really good ability to going forward. I enjoyed my time playing with him on the national team, and we are happy to welcome him to the Seawolves family."