Be Kind & Always Have Fun

All athletes can be separated into two categories. The first group consists of those who think and hope they are capable of winning; the second group includes those players who know and insist they will win. How an athlete receives the inevitable criticism from the sideline and bleachers will shape and determine the type of athlete she is and which of the two groups she belongs to. When asked directly how she felt towards those who told her she would not win, Cedar’s Nicole Jenkins smiled and said the following, “I thought to myself, just watch me…just wait.”

Cedar High Class of 2016 Soccer & Track 4.0GPA

Nicole plays to win in all her athletic endeavors, but it’s important to note that she treats her academic pursuits no differently. “There are definitely times when it gets hard especially during the end of the season with playoffs and always being gone a lot. That’s when it’s most stressful.” Being the 4.0 student she is, Nicole has found that wasting no time to get her work done and taking advantage of every opportunity eases her stress. “During away games, we have the long bus rides, and I try to get my homework done then so that it does not pile up.” Addressing her most challenging course last year, AP Calculus, Nicole says, “You go in early to get the help, and sometimes during lunch you work with the teachers to figure it all out. AP Stats is next. If I survived AP Calculus I can survive anything.”

Getting to the State Championships is no small task either. One bad game and the title slips through ones grasp. Match-ups are a crucial element, and when a team enters the tournament facing the number one seed, some are ready to declare an inevitable loss before the teams even step on the field. However, how an athlete handles the pressure matters most. Recalling this point in the tournament, Nicole says, “We came in and went up against Park City. It was a real tough game too, we had to play really hard.”

After conquering both Park City and Payson, Cedar would face Dixie in the semi-finals. Cedar and Dixie had split wins in their two previous region games, which meant going into the semis with a record of 1-1 towards each other. Says Nicole, “It was a fun game. We knew we had to play hard. We had beat them in region, but they had come back and beaten us, so we were both looking forward to it. After the game everyone was exhausted.”

Commenting on the pressures of the final State Championship game, Nicole explains, “I know a lot of girls were stressed. I was super stressed because I know it’s on me to score. We were all nervous, but once the whistle blew, we found our pace. Nerve wrecking but fun.” What makes the victory feel more special for Nicole was that the win was a true team effort. “Our goalie saved us a lot in the last five minutes of the game too, and with the final goal, we started on the back line. Everyone touched the ball before it got to me and to see it go in and hear the final whistle… it was great! All of the girls were just screaming because we finally did it.”

“The coaches have always believed in us,” says Nicole. “They would always tell us that we could do it, that we could win. The support has always been there, and I love that.”

LDS Young Women Medallion & Honor Bee  –  All-State Team Honorable Mention Sophomore  –  All-State First Team Junior  –  State MVP

Nicole’s mother, Tori Jenkins, is certainly one of her biggest fans. Says Tori, “Nicole has been on the Varsity team since she was a freshman and has had the older girls on the field, girls that would help her and encourage her. She has had the the mindset for years that she could do it if she just worked hard.” Tori adds, “The reason her coaches would say Nicole was so threatening as a scorer is because she put in the time necessary to be able to shoot off the left and right foot. Nicole’s personal drive to practice over and over on her own helped her get to where she is now. She takes on every challenge.”

The young champion works on the sport she loves on a daily basis and explains that the game is more than simply running around and kicking a ball. “Come condition with us, play a game,” Nicole says. “Full sprints and intense conditioning for a couple of hours is more than just running around.” She continues with a smile, “You put in a lot of time to play well.”

Nicole says the following regarding her future as a soccer player, “If I find the right college with the right coaches and teammates then I would continue to play. I have to play because it’s fun. I will only play if it’s fun. The moment it stops being fun then I will walk away. I’ve had fun seasons and some that have not been so fun. Having fun is most important to me when playing soccer.”

Admiring her daughter’s growth and maturity throughout her soccer career thus far, Tori continues, “Nicole’s learned to play the game differently. She used to be very aggressive as a player and put so much pressure on herself to win. She would yell and scream to motivate herself and the rest of the team, but one day she reached a point where the intensity was no longer worth it if it meant the chance of losing friendships off the field. She found a balance and now just wants to have fun.”

In her final year, Nicole explains her hopes for what her fellow teammates remember most about her after she leaves. “I hope the girls remember that I always tried to work hard and that I was nice to everyone. I’m always saying to everyone to be kind and have fun. If you’re not kind or it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.” • HSSI