Hard work, determination and family support help Nichelle Akers become a stronger student-athlete
Hard work, determination and family support help Nichelle Akers become a stronger student-athlete
Friday, December 8, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 8, 2006) - When Nichelle Akers was awarded the A-Sun Defensive Player of the year award last season her reaction was shock. With her sights set simply on winning, aiming for an award was not even on her mind. Nichelle admits she had never paid any attention to awards, her focus is always just going out on the court and playing her hardest.


Hard work and determination have been the driving forces behind Nichelle's recent success. Making the transition from high school basketball was a challenge for her and she says she expected the game to be a lot faster when she changed to the college game. "It was hard to transfer the speed I previously had to the collegiate level, but the hardest thing to get used to was the shot clock and the competition," Nichelle said.


Adjusting to the pace of the college game, she did not play the first couple of games. This made her realize that things were different. She was up for the challenge.


Determined to find out what she needed to do to get onto the court, she went straight to one of her coaches and asked what she had to do to play. "He told me to go out there and move those fast feet of mine and play some defense! So that's what I did," Nichelle said. "I thought if this was the only thing I had to do to play then I made up in my mind that I was going to be the best defender I could be."


Nichelle followed the advice of her coaches and has not looked back since. She describes some of the highlights of her college career so far, "When we beat Chattanooga in the 2004-05 So-Con Tournament it felt so good to beat the No.1 team in the conference," Nichelle said. "The other major highlight of course was winning the Defensive Player of the Year award."


Basketball is not Nichelle's only talent. She also played tennis and competed in track and field in high school. "Track and field is another love of mine outside of basketball," Nichelle said. Her many talents on the field included running the 400, 4 x 100, 4 x 400, the 200 and also throwing discus. "Tennis is a sport that I played to see if I had the same talent and Venus and Serena Williams," Nichelle adds with a smile. "I really did not know a lot about the game but I had fun."


Nichelle describes the management of each of her sports with school as an easy one because it is something she has always done. Her choice to stick with basketball came about due to a budget cut at her high school. "When the track and field program was cut, basketball became more precious to me."


Off the court Akers takes pride in her schoolwork and wants to succeed in the classroom as well. When one asks an athlete at ETSU what they are majoring in, a typical answer would be Sports Management or Business. The response from Nichelle is an unusual one and she says, "I chose it because of a hidden talent most people did not know I had - drawing." Majoring in Digital Media was a choice she made because of her love for cutting and drawing. "I have always been interested in drawing since I was young. I remember copying the characters of Looney Tunes in books and then it just became a hobby I came up with."


The future looks bright for Nichelle both on and off the basketball court. "I hope to pursue a career in Communication to show the world how creative I am. I want to be able to design my own characters to be used in future cartoons," Nichelle said. She plans on getting some experience in the field during the next summer break.


This season she made her 50th career start for the Lady Bucs in the season opener against North Carolina, and is averaging six points and five rebounds in 26.5 minutes for the Lady Bucs. Last season Nichelle grabbed career-best 10 rebounds in the win over Mercer, and tied a school record with nine steals in the win over Campbell. She also tied her career high with 16 points against the Camels.


Nichelle says she is very grateful to all of the fans who show up and support the Lady Bucs, and to her family, "for always pushing me to be the best I can be."