by Adele Williams, Student Newswriter
Alice Lloyd College had the opportunity to speak with ALC senior Ariel Nickell, who has quickly become a campus star. She has displayed outstanding basketball talents, as well as leadership both on and off the court. In her final season with the Lady Eagles, Nickell became the leading scorer, man or woman, in the history of Alice Lloyd College basketball and recently broke the all-time rebounding record, too. Her NAIA and KIAC stats are extraordinary, and she has made a very strong case for receiving KIAC Player of the Year honors. What we learned in the course of the interview is that this Lady Eagle is modest and respectful, but always prepared to face the future head on.
Student newswriter Adele Williams caught up with the basketball legend for a fun, in-depth chat.
ADELE WILLIAMS (ALC): Let’s get some of the basics out of the way, shall we? What’s your hometown?
ARIEL NICKELL: Tazewell, Tennessee.
ALC: And what’s your major?
ARIEL NICKELL: I’m studying Sports & Fitness Management.
ALC: That sounds like an excellent choice for a superior student-athlete. What inspired or made you decide to choose this line of study?
ARIEL NICKELL: Well, at first I wanted to possibly become an athletic director or do something with sports. Now, I’ve decided that I might go into sales. I gained some experience with sales recently, and I really enjoyed it.
ALC: How are your classes?
ARIEL NICKELL: Since I’m a senior, they’re a little harder than before. But being challenged is good.
(Interviewer’s note: Adele was not surprised that Ariel said that.)
ALC: We hate to see you go, Ariel, but what do you plan to do after graduating?
ARIEL NICKELL: I’d like to become a pharmaceutical representative, introducing and selling new medicines to doctors.
ARIEL NICKELL: My brother studied here. I really look up to him and his basketball talents. When Coach Mills contacted me to play ball, I knew it was the place for me.
ALC: Were any other schools interested in having you on their basketball team?
ARIEL NICKELL: Yeah, but I hadn’t really wanted to play collegiate ball. Coach Mills was very persistent and eventually talked me into it. He had recruited my brother to Berea, so I had known about him and Alice Lloyd for a long time.
(Another note: Surprisingly, Ariel Nickell was not being heavily recruited to play college basketball! She was rumored to be “too slow.” Now, she is undoubtedly one of the most coveted basketball talents in the country.)
ALC: When did you start playing basketball?
ARIEL NICKELL: I really can’t remember not playing basketball. I would play at home with my brother, but it wasn’t until around the fourth grade that I started playing on an organized team.
ALC: What has been your favorite or most memorable game that you have played as an ALC Lady Eagle?
ARIEL NICKELL: I’ve enjoyed every game and each holds its own memory, but if I had to choose, it would probably be our game against UPike last season. It was an intense game that went into overtime, and we ended up winning by one point. We displayed great teamwork during that game.
(The final score was 88-87. Nickell had 39 points in the win. You can find a recap of that game here.)
ALC: You have done some absolutely amazing things in your college basketball career. What do you have to say about all of the accomplishments you’ve made?
ARIEL NICKELL: I didn’t accomplish those things by myself. Most of the credit should go to the rest of the team. They have made it that much more memorable for me, and I would have never made it this far without their support on and off the court.
ALC: Did you expect to make it this far, or do you continue to surprise yourself with all of the things that you are able to do?
ARIEL NICKELL: I definitely surprise myself! I never would have imagined that I could I have gone this far. I never thought I’d break records and all of that stuff. Again, it’s really a team effort. I would be nothing without my teammates.
ALC: Who has been the most instrumental in supporting you and your basketball career?
ARIEL NICKELL: There are so many people that have been behind me, but if I had to list a few it would be my mom, Coach Mills, my uncle Keith, and my grandparents.
ALC: What do you have to say about having the record for the most points made in the College’s history?
ARIEL NICKELL: It’s definitely an honor. I didn’t come in hoping to break any records. It’s just fun to play, and I guess that’s just a bonus.
ALC: You’ve been invited to play in Europe for a couple of weeks this summer. Are you excited to play basketball abroad?
ARIEL NICKELL: I’m really excited! I think it will be fun and definitely a great experience. I’ve never been anywhere outside of the U.S. I’m excited to be exposed to another culture. I think it will inspire me to travel more in my future. The competition there will be tough. I’ll no longer be playing against women in my conference, but the best of the best. I’m excited, honored, nervous … but mostly excited. I think it will help me to grow not only as a player, but also as a person.
ALC: What would you tell student-athletes who are considering continuing their athletic career in college but aren’t sure?
ARIEL NICKELL: You need to at least give it a shot. You don’t want to regret not playing in your future. You have nothing to lose. I am so glad that Coach Mills and my mom talked me into playing basketball. I have loved it. There’s really nothing like it.
There you have it, folks! An interview from one of the greatest athletes in the country and one who will go down as one of the best in Alice Lloyd basketball history. As we have said before, she perfectly exemplifies a true “mountain woman.” We’d like to thank Ariel for everything she has done for our college! It was a privilege to witness.