by Annika Beal, Contributing Writer
Nickie Sanlin is the head volleyball coach here at McKendree University and she has been there for eight years. Let me tell you, she is unlike any other typical coach. She has pieces of advice and other keys to success that are original and raw from her own experiences throughout her life. Her past consists of a childhood in Fairview Heights, IL and a high school experience from Belleville East. After that, Nickie went onto Marshall University in West Virginia to play D1 volleyball. At Marshall she loved the school and team she was with during those four years. The team had a very successful run and it showed her what it takes to be a winner and the dedication to become a champion. After college, she moved home in 2010 and coached a club team and high school team. She then went on to volunteering at an NAIA school and coached the men’s program. While there, an assistant job opened at McKendree, so she applied and then after a few years, became the head coach and started a men’s program at McKendree. She puts so much effort into these two programs to help them grow and be the most successful.
She has grown as a person through her own mentors in life who have pushed her to be the empowering women she is today. When many people think of Nickie, they think of empowerment, not strictly focusing on women but with men too, and they look up to her as a role model in life. The way Nickie presents herself face-to-face or on social media really tells who she is in a positive way. The woman you see on Instagram is a direct reflection of who you will meet in person. There is no faking or fluff when it comes to her and she will tell it or show herself straight up because she is so confident with herself. She described herself as logical, confident, and straight-forward. These are three personality characteristics that one could tell right away about her with how she presents herself to people and puts herself out on the media with the pictures she posts and the captions about knowing what your identity, what your purpose is, and also being confident within yourself.
Nickie said that her main job at McKendree is to coach the men’s and women’s volleyball teams here but to also mold young minds to be better, stronger athletes and confident people. Ultimately her goal here is to coach winning teams but more importantly, to have her athletes leave McKendree with purpose, self-confidence, and feeling like they are entering the adult world prepared for any obstacles in life. She said she got through many hard times life with her mom by her side. Her mom is where she got the straight-forwardness from. Her mom had always told her how it was, even though it may have hurt her feelings. It is much better than to be straight forward and hurt someone’s feelings, rather than hold it in and fluff attitude or behavior that may be unacceptable. Another mentor in her life is Brad Keller who is the Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach at the University of California – Los Angeles. Nickie described him as someone who helps her grow in the profession and provides her with a sense of trust and honesty. She loves to surround herself with people who are honest, and he is one of them.
Lastly, her words of advice are strong pieces to take away from who Nickie truly is a person and role model to others. Words of advice for student-athletes specifically are to dedicate yourself for the duration of time you are in school. You are only there for four years so that means one will have to make sacrifices with a social life and lining up priorities with time management. At the top of the list should be to take care of yourself which includes your body, sleeping and eating right. Throw yourself in 100% to what you are doing and leave with no regrets.
Next, for others that strive to be like her, she advises to have positive self-talk many times throughout the day even when times get rough and believe you can do anything; you are in control of your fate. Specifically, she emphasizes that assertiveness is not a bad thing. One doesn’t need to be negative and nasty to get a point across. We do not need to think it is wrong or be apologetic about it. She feels strongly about how people need to stand up more for themselves and do not let anyone talk us down, no matter your gender, race, sexuality. To conclude, her main key to success is self-confidence. When times get tough, do not doubt yourself or your ability for one second whether that’s in school or during your sport. Be a good practice player if that’s in the gym or in the classroom because when times get hard, we resort back to the bad habits. She emphasizes the need to be head strong and be confident within ourselves.
Nickie Sanlin is an amazing role model for anyone no matter the age. She possesses characteristics that help others be their best and keeps them in line. Many people look up to her as a friend, colleague, coach, or motherly figure. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her or getting to know her, many people would recommend changing that and get her involved in your life.