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Gymnastics Paved Path for Nikole Addison

DU student-athlete hopes to help kids realize their full potential in life

Nikole Addison

For Nikole Addison, gymnastics is more than just a sport. It has been more than just a passion for the last 15 years. It has served as more than just a way of life. For Nikole Addison, gymnastics has created a path that otherwise might not have been possible.

The Florida native grew up trying several different sports, but it wasn’t until she was 7 years old that she tried gymnastics.

“You get to show several different elements of your personality,” Addison says. “You can show your grace and your power on the floor. On bars, you get to show your clean lines. I really like the competition of shooting for that perfect 10. Perfection is really the end goal, and I value that.”

Gymnastics not only became a way for her to show off her personality, it also paved a path for her to be the first person in her family to go to college. When it came time to picking that college, the University of Denver was an obvious choice.

“I absolutely fell in love with the campus when I first set foot here,” Addison recalls. “The coaches were so great throughout the recruiting process, and they instantly made it feel like a family. The girls on the team instantly made it feel like a home.”

In the classroom, Addison’s interest in what goes on in the human mind and how it impacts our daily life led her to major in psychology. And this area of study has helped her mentally when competing in the gym. In 2015, she was named freshman gymnast of the year. As a sophomore, she was named to the second team Academic All-Big 12 Team. And as a junior and senior, she has received first team honors.

Addison hopes there are more accolades to come. Last week she helped her team post its highest road score of the season on the way to finishing second in the Big 12 Championships. Next weekend the team is off to Minneapolis, Minn., to compete in the NCAA Regionals. Denver is hoping to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second time in as many seasons and for only the fifth time in program history.

“I just want to go out with a big bang with the rest of my team,” Addison says. “I don’t think most people realize how much effort and time we put into competing. We are in the gym at least 20 hours a week, and we are just working so hard to reach our goals.”

When her final competition is over, Addison will turn her attention to life after DU. Following Commencement in June, she plans to move to Tulsa, Okla., where she will work for Teach for America, a nonprofit organization committed to teaching in low-income schools and increasing their students’ opportunities in life.

“That’s what I’m really passionate about. I’m a first-generation college student, so it wasn’t as if I had a clear path laid out in front of me. The path I started on was very different than the path I was blessed with,” Addison says. “I think all students, teachers and people across the world should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and their goals. I had that opportunity, so I want to empower others to do the same thing.”

While Addison’s days of competing in gymnastics may be just about over, she hopes to find a gym that will allow her to coach and perhaps make a difference in the life of others.

“It definitely hit me at senior night how many hours I have put in to this sport and how much it has given back,” she says. “Without this sport, I would not have made it to the University of Denver and I’m looking forward to seeing where all the skills I have learned in Gymnastics takes me in the future.”

To learn more about Commencement at the University of Denver, please visit the Commencement website.

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