That Vista Ridge senior Nicole Nickdow is batting cleanup and hitting a team-leading .529 for the district-leading Rangers is not a surprise.
The fact that that Nickdow is playing softball at all after four knee operations and being told just last year that she would likely not play again is a story of strength, hard work, commitment and tenacity by the four-year starter.
“Last year I was trying to decide between which Division I school I was going to sign with then I tore up my knee again, it just killed me,” she said. “I have loved softball and played since I was four years old and then the doctors were saying it might be over. I was crushed.”
Vista Ridge head coach Lauren Myrick faced the challenge head-on and Nickdow said she thinks Myrick’s approach gave her the spark she needed.
“Coach Myrick gave me time away from softball, she never pressured me and was so positive that it helped me come face to face with maybe having to give up the sport I love or jumping back in and going where life would take me,” Nickdow said.
Nickdow was a key part of the Rangers run to state two years ago and playoff qualifying last year, but she missed the playoff loss last season as it came just two days after another knee operation.
Softball, the competition and her teammates has fueled Nickdow’s career and her comeback. She is an honor student and a leader in Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well as being a senior captain for the Lady Rangers, who are currently in first place in District 25-6A after a 3-0 district start.
“I have traveled all over the nation playing softball during the summer and the leadership I learned has allowed me to apply myself academically and socially,” she said.
Nickdow is again considering the possibility of playing softball at the collegiate level and her drive to compete shows up in her seventh-grade sister Taylor.
“Taylor plays softball, basketball, volleyball but she is amazing at lacrosse, and we also are more than just athletically similar,” laughed Nicole as she and Taylor share their Aug.4 birthday, albeit four years apart.
Clearly, nothing is beyond reach for the player who was medically considered a long shot to play and met that challenge head on.
“Nicole is the strongest, more courageous player I have ever coached,” Myrick said.