The game is neck and neck, and both teams are sweating, gasping for air. They’ve been playing for what feels like forever, and yet everyone on that court is still pushing through, and will do anything to make sure that ball does not drop, throwing their bodies across the court and even pushing their own teammates out of the way to prevent it.
The players on this court do not just have incredible strength and speed, but also an added sense of teamwork and good sportsmanship. They are not just well-rounded volleyball players, but also just well-rounded people, and while these qualities can be obtained through natural talent, the attributes usually originate from their equally talented coaches, our own girl’s volleyball team being coached by the brilliant Brooke Nicholson, a skillful woman that I had the pleasure of learning about.
From the young age of nine, Nicholson found herself drawn to the sport through her step sister. While she was going on her own high school volleyball journey, Nicholson would sit and watch as the teams practiced and played games, sometimes even walking from school to home games. From those moments spent enjoying watching her sister play volleyball, Nicholson developed a large passion for the sport, one that she continued throughout her life.
And from then on, she was rooted for success. During her sophomore year of high school here at Mission, Nicholson had made the varsity team which was a huge personal goal she had hoped to accomplish.
Making the varsity team was not the only achievement she was able to make during her high school career. While playing on the team, Nicholson and her teammates were able to become the first girls volleyball team at MVHS to make it into the CIF semifinals, an honor that even now Coach Brooke Nicholson looks back on as one of the proudest moments of her career.
Coach Nicholson did not just want to play the sport she loved, however; she also wished to inspire others to experience volleyball. After her incredible time playing for MVHS, she decided to turn a new leaf and became an assistant coach at 18 years old. At this point, Nicholson was also attending Concordia University, where she was majoring in Sports Medicine and Kinesiology.
From there, she found herself coaching girls volleyball for Mission, returning to her alma mater still doing the thing she loved when she was enrolled. Her time at Mission has been a memorable journey, one that brought multiple victories and shaped some of the greatest volleyball players Mission has ever seen.
Last year’s season was a particularly unforgettable yet bittersweet part of Nicholson’s career. She unfortunately had to say goodbye to ten seniors who she had been with during their entire high school experience, but was lucky enough to be able to make their last year memorable by helping them get to CIF, a victory which Nicholson labeled as one of her proudest moments while coaching for Mission.
However, that is not to say this year’s season wasn’t one for the books. To Nicholson, the freshmen that had recently joined the program showed great potential and positivity throughout their first season. “The best part of [this year] was knowing that we’re going to be strong in the next few years to come.”
Throughout her years of playing and coaching, Nicholson learned many valuable tips that she now applies to her players. One of the most important pieces of advice to her when it comes to volleyball is to learn how to embrace uncomfortableness. “[Volleyball] is a hard sport at the beginning, but it’s really rewarding once it clicks.”
While on and off the court, Nicholson encourages her young players to be strong, independent, and admirable women, something that she hopes they take away from the sport along with the importance of character building, working with others, and motivation. “It’s all these things that are a part of being an adult that you can learn from a fun sport.”
It is clear that Nicholson’s passion for volleyball and the effort she puts into it is something that is a part of who she is, or in her own words an “obsession/identity”. No matter how you phrase it, the change she inflicts onto the program is one that alters the program for the better, and her legacy will hopefully be passed down for generations to come.