• A dream she has had since she was 14 came true for volleyball player Christina Nicholls (center) this year when she was se...
    A dream she has had since she was 14 came true for volleyball player Christina Nicholls (center) this year when she was selected as a First Team All-American.
  • Christina Nicholls
    Christina Nicholls

Christina Nicholls fell in love with the sport of volleyball in seventh grade and has never looked back since. Over the past 10 years she has remained dedicated and driven, consistently putting significant time and effort into the sport – and all of her hard work has paid off.

Nicholls has been named Player of the Year for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). While that alone is a great honor, she has also been selected as a volleyball First Team All-American, a dream Nicholls has had since she was 14.

“Receiving my First Team All-America award and my SCAC Player of the Year honor were outstanding milestones for me personally,” Nicholls says. “I’m a very goal-oriented person, and I made a volleyball goal sheet for myself when I was 14 years old. This list included extremely lofty goals for a mediocre 9th grade volleyball beginner, but with the close of this year I was able to cross the final goal off my list – to be an All-American.”

Her All-American title places Nicholls as one of the best players in the country, something not to be taken lightly. But looking at a stunning career in competitive volleyball, it doesn’t seem like much of a surprise. This season alone, Nicholls was named the Division III Player of the Week on Nov. 2, SCAC Player-of-the-Year, All-SCAC First Team, and AVCA All-South Region First Team. She also has been selected as an Honorable Mention player the past two seasons.

Nicholls says that her commitment to volleyball matches perfectly with her personality. “I’ve always liked being part of a group and community with a common larger goal. I thrive off competition and I love winning. Those are definite common qualities of every person on our team and Southwestern volleyball as a whole. I’ve stuck with volleyball for these 10 years because it has always been fun to me. Nothing is better than winning with my best friends.”

Off the volleyball court, Nicholls has proved to be just as dedicated. She has used her passion for China and its people to create her own major − Chinese culture and communication − and hopes to one day work abroad in Chinese foreign relations. She is presenting her senior capstone project on “The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Oppression, Censorship, and Tibetan Identities” on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. 

Speaking with Nicholls, it’s clear that she takes these successes with humility and thanks, and acknowledges her team more than any personal accomplishments. “Although I have received these honors, I believe that volleyball is one of the most team-oriented sports, meaning that I am nothing without my team,” she says. “Our team dynamic is outstanding, and we have always have fun. It is really nice to play Division III volleyball because no one is on scholarship. This means that all of us are part of the team because we love it – no one is being paid to play. The only thing that keeps us around is our love of the game. I’ve loved being part of the Southwestern volleyball family, and these players have grown to feel like sisters to me.”

Though she has excelled in volleyball, Nicholls says that this year marks the end of her life as a volleyball player. Even so, she carries with her the lessons in teamwork and persistence the sport has taught her.

“I am honored and excited about the awards, but I am more proud of how my team has performed and thrilled about the success we have found,” she says. “It is the best feeling in the world to be on a successful team with good friends, and although my competitive volleyball career is over I am so excited and proud of the amazing things I have been fortunate enough to be part of these past four years.”

−Jasmine SayGan