Nicole (known as Nic on the team) was born and grew up in Niagara Falls Ontario. She is the oldest of three siblings who all play basketball and were raised by athletic parents. Nicole also played soccer and volleyball and could have played soccer at a university level but chose to focus on basketball. She said she had a closer relationship with her basketball teammates than she did in other sports.
I asked Nic how she knew she was good at basketball. She said that when she was younger she had a hard time believing that she was good but with her parents support and the encouragement of one particular coach when she played rep basketball she started to develop more confidence. It was hard playing in a region where everyone knew everyone and where decisions about where to play could influence your relationships. Nic played for the Welland Saints from grade 7 to grade 9 rather than the Niagara Falls team which she felt may have hurt some relationships and created some challenges for her in her high school career. She later played for a Hamilton team and then a North Toronto team.
Nic came to Ryerson because it had one of the only university based Early Childhood Studies programs and since her ultimate career goal is to be a teacher she thought it was a good fit for her. When she played basketball in North Toronto one of her coaches Jason (who is an Assistant Coach with the Ryerson Women’s team) encouraged her to connect with the new Ryerson Coach. (Carly started in 2012 and Nic was one of her first recruits). She actually knew 6 or 7 players on the current team from her years in rep basketball. Nic is currently in her third year at Ryerson and has two more years of eligibility.
Nic wants to teach in primary school – kindergarten to grade 4. She grew up thinking she wanted to be a dentist and then decided maybe forensic science but due to the experience of having lots of younger cousins and coaching experiences she decided teaching young kids suited her better. She has helped coach her younger sibling’s teams and hopes she will be able to continue to coach as a teacher.
Nic’s role on the team has changed somewhat in her three years as a Ram. She played more minutes in her first and second year and has played less this year. She said that while it may be disappointing it is an experience that she understands based on the needs of the team and that has made her stronger. I asked her to describe her role on the team and she said “the mom”. She said that it feels like people just automatically gravitate to her when they need help and have questions. She has a big heart and cares about her teammates a lot. Really great qualities for a teacher.
Nic is soft spoken and kind. These qualities and her natural tendency to be helpful really have served her well in her program placements. She has worked with toddlers in a day care centre, at Native Family Child Services, and this year she works in the infant program at a special needs day care centre. She especially loved working with the toddlers because “they just tell you how it is” and they can read your mood instantly. She learned a great deal about her self seeing her emotions reflected in them. Last year she worked with all the Rams Teams to hold a Toy Drive for Native Family Child Services and they collected 15 boxes of toys for the agency. She is loving working this year with special needs children who she described as so giving and loving and inspirational.
I asked Nic what she has learned from basketball and she had a good list of things including…how to be strong, how to be mentally tough, how to not let people step all over her because of her quiet/calm nature, and how to speak up for herself. We talked before the last two weeks of the season so it was before the provincial and national championships. She said she was excited about the coming weeks. I asked her about her personal goals next year related to basketball and she said she would just like to be known as a leader among her teammates and she would like to be known as someone who always works hard and makes a contribution.
After graduation Nic hopes to get a teaching job somewhere in southern Ontario but not in downtown Toronto. She says she will really miss basketball but hopes to stay connected to the game through her siblings and through coaching.
Nic feels really lucky and fortunate to be a Ryerson Rams athlete and I feel lucky and fortunate to have gotten to know her a bit better.
Thanks again to Alex D’Addese for the photography…to see more click here.