Name: Jayana Nicholson
Fall Sport: Tennis
Position: No. 2 Seeded Singles/Doubles Player
Years on Varsity: 3 years
Height & Weight: 5’2”/110 lbs.
Experience: 5 years (began playing tennis while in seventh grade)
RSHS Academics: Nicholson is one of several Official Richmond County Athletes of the Week to be enrolled in Richmond Senior High School’s dual-enrollment program with Richmond Community College. When asked why she decided to sign up for the program, Nicholson said Mrs. Kim Floyd, a former math teacher, suggested she take it in order to get a head start with her college credits.
Currently in her junior year, she’s taking several honors level courses at RSHS in conjunction to her MATH 171 course at RCC. This semester, Nicholson is taking Honors American History, Honors Chemistry and Honors Weight Training. The courses she enjoys most are chemistry and math.
“I really enjoy math and chemistry because they remind me of each other,” Nicholson said. “I like to challenge myself when it comes to numbers, and I’m just really good at these subjects.”
RSHS Sports: Nicholson stays busy year-round, as she is a three-sport athlete at Richmond. During the winter season, she’s a member of the Lady Raiders basketball team. The point guard, who has spent her freshman and sophomore seasons on the junior varsity team, hopes this year she’ll be moved up to the varsity level.
During the spring sports season, Nicholson is a starting center midfielder for the Lady Raiders soccer team. Joining the varsity team at the end of her freshman season, Nicholson helped Richmond earn a 14-6-2 record as a sophomore, and credits her skills to having played soccer since she was four years old.
Extracurricular Activities: Because she’s a three-sport athlete, Nicholson is limited to how many other extracurricular activities she’s involved with. But that’s not to say that she doesn’t try. She is a general member of the National Beta Club, an organization she has been a part of since she was a student at Hamlet Middle School.
Describing volunteering and community work as “cool” and something she “enjoys,” Nicholson has participated in RCS’ “stuff the bus” initiative and sells doughnuts to fundraise for Beta Club.
Hobbies: Nicholson’s favorite hobbies are the ones that include playing some type of sport or working out in the gym. Training and conditioning are very important to her, so she enjoys doing them when she’s not actually playing a sport. Nicholson is also a gymnast, and trains at Physical Awareness in Hamlet.
But that’s not to say that she doesn’t enjoy her down time to relax. To do this, Nicholson finds comfort in drawing and doodling. She admits that she’s not the next Picasso, but it is something that she finds joy in doing. The 16-year-old also enjoys reading, and cited her favorite novel of all time to be Harper Lee’s timeless American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She also enjoys just hanging out with friends and doing “friends things”, like carving pumpkins or watching movies.
Interesting Fact: For her interesting fact, Nicholson shared how her first name holds a special meaning to her.
“I was named after my Uncle Jay,” Nicholson said. “He was really sick, and passed away before I was born. My parents wanted to incorporate the name ‘Jay’ into one of their kids’ names. And it just so happened I was up next. I think it’s special to be named after my uncle, even though I never met him.”
College Aspirations: With still some time to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life, Nicholson has a pretty firm grasp on what area of study she’d like to pursue. As she is a talented gymnast, Nicholson would like to own her own gymnastics company.
“My dream is to open my own gymnastics gym and be an instructor,” Nicholson said. “Owning my own business would be really cool.”
In pursuing this dream, Nicholson is looking into the business programs at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Both schools, Nicholson stated, have excellent business programs and are ones she’d like to attend. She’s also not counting out the possibility of pursuing her love for math and science. Another possible course of study she’s considering is computer engineering.
Mentor: Each week, the RO asks its athlete of the week to explain who her mentor is. Nicholson, like many of the RO’s featured athletes couldn’t just pick one person. So she picked her parents, Earl and Rasheda Nicholson, as well as her Richmond soccer coach Bennie Howard.
“My parents are really the best,” Nicholson said. “They always want me to try my best, and help challenge me to be the best person I can be. They are there for me every step of the way, whether its school or sports.”
Likewise, Howard has the same sort of impact on Nicholson.
“Bennie has coached me the last two seasons in soccer, and he’s really a great coach and mentor,” Nicholson said of the 30-year veteran coach. “He’s really funny, but he can get really serious during a game. And that makes me want to try harder on the field and to better myself.
“Both my parents and coach Howard have impacted my life,” Nicholson concluded.
Player of the Week Stats: As the Lady Raiders’ No. 2 tennis player in singles and doubles play, Nicholson has had a pretty solid run throughout the 2017 season. She was successful enough to qualify for the North Carolina State playoffs, and took care of business in the opening round.
In the first round, Nicholson did work individually in the singles competition, beating Pine Forest High School’s No. 2 Shania Lane 2-6, 7-6 and 10-8. In doubles play, Nicholson and junior teammate Greyson Way moved past the first round by defeating Emily Haze and Jazmin Leath 8-0.
Nicholson was eliminated from play Tuesday following a loss to Sanderson High School’s Sibel Tanik, but still put together a fantastic season.
What has your season been like so far? Discuss your relationship with doubles teammate Greyson Way; what’s been the key to your success so far?
“This season has been pretty successful for both the team and I,” Nicholson said. “To make it to state playoffs was an expectation because Greyson and I had been there as sophomores.
“Greyson and I have known each other for a long time,” Nicholson continued. “We grew up together, played softball together and our parents worked together. And that has helped our relationship and chemistry on the court.
“We tried something new as sophomores and decided to try playing together,” Nicholson explained. “We work well together because where Greyson is taller, I am faster. We’re able to work the court and make smart plays.”
Coach’s Corner: Head coach Mike Way, who is in his second year coaching the Lady Raiders, spoke highly of Nicholson’s progression throughout the season, and said her and Way compliment each other well when playing together.
“Jayana has had a solid season,” Way said. “She did well moving up to the No. 2 seed. She has won some big matches for us. Jayana won a hard-fought match against Pine Forest, in which she came back from a set down.”
“She’s humble and unassuming, as well as very athletic,” Way continued. She’s also an excellent student in the classroom.”
Look for Nicholson on the Richmond Observer’s flagship news program Live at 5, as she’ll be in studio for Thursday’s edition.