NFL player treats fans to Reno Aces game
LVN Editor Emeritus
As a linebacker playing for one of the top high school football teams in Nevada, Kyle Van Noy menaced opposing offenses and led McQueen to the state 4A title in 2008.
Likewise, when he suited up for Brigham Young University for four years, the Reno native gave opposing quarterbacks and coaches nightmares — or made them count tackles to keep them awake — as he became one of the nation’s top defensive players.
And during the past two years, the 27-year-old Van Noy played in two Super Bowls for New England, having won a ring in 2017 and watching the Eagles upset the Patriots this year.
Van Noy, though, loves baseball, a game he also played as a younger boy growing up in Reno, and on July 21, he said he wanted to give back to the community and take 53 children and adults to watch the Aces play the Las Vegas 51s as a part of Christmas in July at Greater Nevada Field. Van Noy and his wife Marissa, a former Miss Utah USA winner, worked with the Aces and local service agencies to give the children and adults from Koinonia Foster Homes & Family Services an opportunity to enjoy the game on a pleasant summer evening and to watch their favorite Aces players in action.
Van Noy said he attended one of the very first games the Aces played when they debuted in Reno in 2009. The former Reno athlete said he was happy to be back.
“This is my first game in 10 years,” he said, explaining he soon left Reno to attend BYU and then his journeys took him to the National Football League, first to Detroit in 2014 and then to New England in a 2017 trade.
Van Noy, said, he wants to spend more time in Reno since family members still live in the city. His visit to the ballpark and seeing the skyline behind him brought back memories of him growing up in Reno and playing sports against many teams including Douglas, Carson and Churchill County high schools.
“We beat them by a lot,” he said, smiling, recounting how the Lancers dominated the football scene under his late coach and Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Famer, Ken Dalton.
“I love that man,” he said. “He was a good person, and I miss him a lot.”
Although the McQueen football program has slipped as a powerhouse, Van Noy said he would like to see the team rise to the top again.
“People who live around the school miss it,” Van Noy said, referring to the golden years of McQueen football championships.
He also lettered in basketball, track and baseball, and his throw down the middle during the first pitch showed Van Noy still has command of the fastball.
After graduating from McQueen, the highly-recruited prep football player signed with BYU, which became the Cougars’ gain and Nevada’s loss. In four years from 2010-2014, he emerged as one of the nation’s best defensive players. His two best seasons, the final two, lifted Van Noy to national recognition. In 13 games during his junior season, he had 53 tackles, 23 tackles for losses, 13 sacks, six forced fumbles, two interceptions, and two blocked kicks.
BYU defeated San Diego State in the 2012 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, 23-6.
In 2013, he earned the All-Independent Player of the Year and finished the season with 70 tackles, 17 for losses, three sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. BYU, though, lost to Washington in the Fight Hunger Bowl, 31-16, in San Francisco.
During his freshman year, Van Noy and the Cougars hosted Nevada in Provo but lost to the Wolf Pack in its miracle season where it finished ranked and won Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The loss didn’t diminish Van Noy’s love for his hometown and the Pack. During his youth, Van Noy followed the Wolf Pack and attended, on occasion, football, basketball and baseball games, and even during his playing days in Provo and at Gillette Stadium, the home of the Patriots, Van Noy keeps an eye on the Wolf Pack’s success.
“I grew up as a big Nevada fan,” he mentioned prior to Saturday’s game. “I follow the twins (Caleb and Cody Martin) and hung out with them today. What a blessing. I’m proud of them and a big fan of both.”
Soon, Van Noy will be heading to the Patriots’ training camp and then preparing himself for the season opener. Another Super Bowl appearance is definitely on the horizon, but last year’s defeat to the Eagles, where he made five tackles, is in the rearview mirror.
“It was a great game, but we lost,” he said. “It’s a new year. I hope we can win games … that’s all that matters.”
Van Noy, though, played in a Super Bowl win in 2017 when New England rallied in the second half to edge Atlanta.
The hardest thing for a player, however, is avoiding major injuries. Former NFL players Josh Mauga and Harvey Dahl, who both graduated from Churchill County High school and the University of Nevada, Reno, saw their careers cut short because of injury.
“That’s the toughest part of the season,” concurred Van Noy. “The key is to stay healthy.”