Adams follows her dreams

Amy Carton
Nicole Adams tips the ball over the net for the Benedictine University volleyball team last season.

It had always been her dream to play volleyball at the collegiate level and through hard work and dedication, Geneseo’s Nicole Adams has made a name for herself at Benedictine University.

“It was always my goal (to play in college), but my parents always told me not to decide on a school for just volleyball, but for academics,” she said. “I tried to get my name out there and, thankfully, found Jen (Wildes), head coach at Benedictine and she was very welcoming. I always told myself I wanted to play, but if it wasn’t meant to be it wasn’t mean to be.”

Adams became interested in Benedictine after talking with fellow GHS grad Danielle Dewey and asked where her brother, Alex, went to play football because she was looking for other school options.

“I am definitely happy with my decision,” she said. “I don’t have any regrets. The last three years have shaped me into who I am today. Preparing for my last season of volleyball is sad, but I know what to expect, and I can help the younger players grow as a person.”

During her first season at Benedictine, Adams played in 34 matches where she put away 165 kills (third highest on the team), and had seven assists, 31 digs and 72 blocks (23 solo, 49 assisted), a team high. She was named to the NAC All-Freshman Team.

“My first season, I was nervous, scared and intimidated by the older girls,” said Adams. “I was fortunate to play most of the games my freshman year. The team was very competitive and tried to make each other better. We would go as hard as we could.

“I had two seniors when I was a freshman who helped me and made (jumping in right away) easier for me. Coming right out of high school it is a huge change, and being a middle hitter it is a lot harder. It is all about being smart when hitting the ball and the pace is a lot faster.”

In her sophomore season, Adams saw action in 25 matches where she had 144 kills (third on the team), one assist, 25 digs and 51 blocks (15 solo, 36 assisted), second highest on team.

“My sophomore year was a little rough because I had a bad knee at the time, and I don’t want to blame it on my knee, but it had a damper on my season,” said Adams.

Last season, Adams played in 34 matches where she raked in 342 kills, the second highest on the team; six assists, 54 digs and 112 blocks (23 solo, 89 assisted), the highest on the team. She was named to NAC First Team, first team AVCA All-Region and AVCA All-American Honorable Mention.

“My best season was my junior year,” she said. “I just look at my awards and recognition at the end of the season — first team All-Conference, first team All-Region and All-American Honorable Mention and it puts a lot of pressure on myself. I think I did make a name for myself and (these awards) are definitely an honor, but I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

There also have been a few bumps in the road for Adams over the last three years as she battled knee and shoulder injuries, which required surgery.

“That was definitely a challenge, but we have such a great training program and the staff was very helpful before and after surgery,” said Adams. “For me, I was always rehabing, spending a lot of time in our facility because I set myself goals and I was going to try to reach those goals. My injuries weren’t going to make me stop.”

Despite her injuries and the obstacles she had to overcome to get her to where she is today, Adams never thought about walking away.

“I always hoped to get back on the court and be bigger and stronger,” she said. “I never had those doubts because either way I was always going to be a part of the program on the sideline or on the court with my team. I would not rather be with anyone else but them.”

Adams said the biggest highlights of her last three years were during her junior season when she ended the year with all the recognition she did, and going to the NCAA tournament.

“Going to the NCAA tournament was an exciting time for us to get that recognition for how hard we are working,” she said. “I hope bigger and better things will happen my senior year.”

The goals Adams would like to achieve this year during her final season would be to win conference and go farther in the NCAA tournament.

“I am looking forward to having my little sister, Kelcey, play with me and have our bond grow into a teammate bond,” said Adams. “I hope she will love it as much as I do.

“I definitely hope to be a better leader than I was the last three years. I hope to be the freshmen’s leader like my freshman year I always looked up to the seniors. I hope to make an impact on others, set new goals and become better and work harder.

“My advice (to players thinking of playing in college) is never put away your dreams, always go for your dreams and goals. If you love the sport you play, you should definitely set out and work hard for it.”