Jasper’s Landon Nix is carrying on his family’s college baseball legacy
Words by Nick Norris | Image by Blakeney Clouse
After 18 years of perfecting his skills on the baseball field, Landon Nix is ready to take the next step. It has required countless hours of exhausting training in the Alabama heat, but now the outfielder is making the leap from Jasper High to Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama.
“I’ve dreamed of playing baseball at the college level my entire life,” Landon says with a humble smile. “It’s been a blessing to have this opportunity to play at the next level.”
Though there is plenty of promise on the horizon, the four-year letterman outfielder is going to miss his time at Jasper High. “Jasper has a special group of coaches,” Landon says. “They take care of their players, regardless of the circumstances, and that’s all you can ask for in a coaching staff. And my teammates were just as awesome. That group of guys had a real bond, and I’m excited to now get to play against a few of them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Landon is not the first Nix to play baseball at the college level. His older brother, Logan, played at Marion as well before moving on to play for Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM), and the boys’ father, Keith Nix, was a pitcher for Northwest-Shoals Community College.
Keith passed away on February 3, 2019 after a long battle with esophageal cancer. Landon’s mother, Kellie, suffered from colon cancer and tragically passed away just three years earlier in 2016. Landon plays to honor them.
“Every play, every ball thrown, every ball hit is all for them,” Landon says.
Thanks to Landon’s determination, he will now carry on the Nix legacy of college ballplayers. It’s a goal for which he has always strived.
“It’s special,” Landon explains. “Not many families have a tradition like that. I’ll never take it for granted.”
Matt Downs, who has served as the head coach of the MMI Tigers since 2013, is well aware of this tradition. Because he coached Logan during his time at Marion, Landon has known Coach Downs for some time. But it was in their first meeting when Landon realized this was the man he wanted to play for in college.
“Coach Downs gets straight to the point,” Landon says, reminiscing on that initial meeting. “I realized quickly that this is a man of action, not just words. He wants to win, obviously, but he also wants to build his players up as men and prepare us for life after baseball. He’s a great coach to play for.”
Despite the many expectations and upcoming challenges facing him, Landon remains optimistic.
“There’s going to be a lot of obstacles ahead of me at Marion, both on and off the field,” Landon explains. “It’s a military school, for one. That comes with its own challenges. I’ll also be facing better talent. These guys have all made it to this level for a reason, just like I did. But I trust in my abilities and our coaching staff, so I’m just going to do my best.”
The long-lived dream of playing college ball is now a reality, and Landon’s focus has shifted to his freshman season. By making it to the college level, Landon is yet another example of a Jasper athlete who is making this small town proud.
And though they are gone, Landon believes his parents can see how his life is unfolding. “It means everything to me to know that they’re both proud and looking down on me,” he says. 78