When Nicky Bollinger was a sophomore, she received a medical diagnosis that would end her volleyball playing career for good.
“It was really rough, because, you know, in my mind, it was like, that’s the end of anything that I would be able to do with sports and with volleyball,” she said.
But it wasn’t the end. Xavier Prep volleyball coach Natalie Donnels didn’t want to lose her, so she helped her transition into a new role with the team.
“Now, she’s like my second-hand man, she’s like another assistant coach for me, which is amazing,” Donnels said.
Bollinger, now a senior, is team manager of the school’s girls and boys volleyball teams.
“As I tell everyone, you know, I love what I do because it’s the closest I can be to being on the court without being on the court,” Bollinger said.
“It’s amazing to see the chemistry she has with the team even though she’s not even playing,” Donnels said.
Just when she thought her sports career was over, she found her passion.
“It just came so natural to her. When she stopped playing, she knew that she didn’t want to end sports, right? So, being part of our team is another way she could be involved, but also later on in life, she can use everything she’s learned,” Donnels said.
“I was just so happy that I could absorb everything that I could get from, you know, being involved in the program and the athletics, and pushing that to see what’s next,” Bollinger said.
Bollinger is attending the Honors College at Boise State University where she plans to pursue a career in sports management. She credits her role at Xavier for the inspiration.