Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Thoughts On Nicky, Part 2

Today is Day 2 of the Princeton volleyball tribute to Elysee Nicholas, who leaves Princeton after 40 years, most of which was spent on the Department of Athletics grounds crew.

If you'd like to read Part 1 from men's head coach Sam Shweisky, you can do so HERE. As part of their contributions to this tribute, Shweisky and women's head coach Sabrina King sent over a few pictures, including one yesterday with Nicky and Sam and the one TigerBlog has used today.

Going from left to right, that's Sabrina, former Princeton volleyball contact Craig Sachson, Nicky and Sam. TigerBlog can't even begin to guess how many Princeton volleyball matches those four have combined to see, or how many nights all four of them were together in Dillon Gym. 

It was Sam Shweisky who came up with the term "Team Around The Team." Craig and Nicky were both huge members of the Princeton volleyball Team Around The Team. 

For today, here is Part 2, from women's head coach Sabrina King:

Nicky is family.   

We share the same birthday and thus are forever connected. We go way back, since Nicky has been with Princeton Volleyball forever, and I have since 1997. 

When I was a player, he used to call me “the cat” because he thought I had cat-like reflexes. In the early 2000s when I was Glenn Nelson’s assistant, we used to spend hours in the office, telling stories about old school Princeton, and hanging out with the players’ parents.   

He became such close friends with the Liljestroms, who had THREE sons, Jason ’04, RJ ’07 and Scott ’12 come through the MVB program, that they invited Nicky, wife Edelyne and daughter Isabelle out to California to stay with them for a week. Nicky makes those kinds of friends…ones that are friends for life.  He just has such a warm and inviting personality.  

Nicky is always giving advice.   

He observes the world keenly and understands human interactions. In 2011, I became head coach and Nicky was still my wingman.  I remember him gently pulling my then boyfriend and now husband Abel over to the side during one of his infrequent appearances at a home match. He impressed on Abel how important it was to come to the volleyball matches, to make them a priority. Abel became a super fan of course. 

I did not tell Nicky to say those things, but he knew more than I even knew how important that support was to me. In 2016, when our first child Lyla was born, Nicky told me to let everyone hold her…that she would be able to go with anyone if we got her used to different people holding her. So, we passed her around; she was the team mascot.   

Nicky would hold her all the time. She used to run up to him and yell “Micky” and ask why he was “ball” (bald.)  He loved that.

Every time I call Nicky, he says “Sabrina, I was just thinking about you…” and I think it is true. I think he is always thinking about other people.   

If you have ever been to Nicky’s house, there are usually a lot of people there. His house is your house, and thus he is continually taking care of extended and non-blood family. He is the glue that keeps his family and community together, often times in very dark moments.  

His radiant smile belies the pain and tragedy that have created deep wounds in his life.  And still he smiles and gives his whole being to others. 

Princeton Volleyball is still not sure what it will do without its proverbial glue. But one thing is certain, Nicky will always be family.   

Thank you for being a close friend and supporting me my entire adult life -- from cat to free range parent.

--Sabrina King, Princeton Women’s Volleyball


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