Interview with a High School Sports Star
By Michelle, age 16, South Africa
Nicole Fletcher, or Nix, as she is fondly known by friends and family, is an aspiring young South African sports star from Durban. At 17, she is tipped off to be her high school's next head prefect of 2010. Recently I caught up with her during one of her training sessions to find out how she handles her busy schedule, grades, and still finds time to have a social life.
Michelle: Hi Nicole, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. I can tell your coach was a bit leery about it. What were you meant to be doing at this time?
Nicole: It's my pleasure, and I am actually meant to be practising for my events in the school athletics meeting later on in the month [October].
Michelle: What are you partaking in?
Nicole: [laughs] Everything - javelin, all the distances in track, shot put, high jump, long jump, and discus!
Nicole (left), with her best friend Robyn (right).
Michelle: Talk about determined! Let us get to it. Could you tell me what grade you are in at school, as well as what subjects you do.
Nicole: I am in grade eleven and I do Maths, English, Afrikaans, Life Orientation, Biology, Physics, and Geography.
Michelle: What do you plan to study after you complete high school?
Nicole: I plan to take a gap year and au pair for a bit; afterwards I would like to study either Physio Therapy or Sport Science - I am a bit undecided on which at the moment.
Michelle: How do you maintain your perfect A average while having such a busy sports schedule? I would never be able to cope!
Nicole: I would not say it's perfect [laughs] - I am not first in the grade, that is for sure. Well, when it comes down to actually doing homework, there is none, as I make certain to finish everything in class, but if I have an overload, then I see myself staying up late hours of the night to complete it after practise. Listening in class helps a lot too, I've noticed!
Michelle: Which subject(s) do you like the best and least?
Nicole: Best would have to be Geography, as it is the easiest, and least would have to be without a doubt maths - boring, yawn!
Ever since primary school Nicole has been a high achiever both on and off the field. Sporting to her is 'her life' and she 'knows nothing else'.
Michelle: Which sports do you do?
Nicole: [laughs] Do you want the long or short list? I do 1st team hockey (indoor, outdoor, summer league, as well as club hockey), swimming, 1st team water polo, athletics, cross country, 1st team soccer, and running ... did I miss anything?
Michelle: Good heavens, and out of all the above which are you captain or vice-captain of?
Nicole: I am captain for the 1st team indoor and outdoor hockey teams, vice-captain for the 1st team water polo, and captain for the cross country/track team.
Michelle: Your sporting achievements thus far are ...?
Nicole: I have made provincial for hockey, as well as district too, and district for cross country. I came 1st in the 400m run during an inter-school athletics meeting. I was hockey, swimming, netball, cross country, and athletics captains in primary school. Victrix Ladorum for swimming and running in primary school. Sports woman of the year from grade one through to grade seven, and from grade eight to grade ten so far.
Michelle: What has been the highlight of your sporting career?
Nicole: Making provincial team for hockey would have to have been the main highlight! As well as having previous provincial teams coach my teammates and me, and having Cindy Carlyle [professional hockey player] train us!
Michelle: This is an obvious question, but which is your favourite sport?
Nicole: Hockey. [laughs] Is it that obvious?
Michelle: Would you consider hockey (or any other sport) as a professional career?
Nicole: Of course I would, but I would want to have finished my studies first so that I have something to fall back on. Sporting is not a lifetime (or money making) career. I will need to pursue something afterwards.
When Nicole is not practising or taking part in sports events she can be seen hanging out with her best friend Robyn. They enjoy going out to parties, movies, and ice skating, "though I am not very good," she adds.
Nicole's advice to other young women athletes: "Follow your dreams. If you are passionate about something, go after it! If you would like to play sports professionally, then you have got to be focused and train hard. Do not let anyone bring you down!"