STU Student Spotlight: Meet Nicole & Sydney

By: SGA Members Tashya Melville ( & Maxim Khodosevich (

When Nicole McInnis and Sydney Maynard walked into our office they both were surprised by how nice it looks and why they had never been here before. (Editor’s note: People, come visit our office in the Student Center to get to know your Student Government). Then we started our conversation.
You have been a captain for two years now; do you see any changes in your role from last year?
Nicole:  I would say my role this year as a captain is more of a mom role; last year most of the girls were my age. I could sit back and let them do what they had to do and just get on them when I needed to. This year we have a lot of younger girls who are first timers in college so I have to get them acquainted with the new life and guide them. I am trying to lead by an example this year.
Do you remember the challenges that you faced in your first year of being a captain? What recommendations do you have for Sydney as it is her first year of being a captain? 
Nicole: In my first year it was hard for me to learn how to lead. I would say things and it would come across negatively. So, I had to step back and learn how to give constructive criticism positively to my teammates. To Sydney, I want to say try to reinforce with positives instead of negatives.
There are nine new players on the team and only five returners. Two starting players got injured, how was the team able to adapt and what was the toughest challenge for you as a captain?
Nicole: Everyone on the team has talent and everyone on the team can play any position at any time, so if someone goes down, yes there is someone down on the court, but that just means everyone else has to pick up their level of play to compensate for that person being out.

As a captain and a leader for two years, what strong suits did you develop last year and what do you plan to work on this year?
Nicole: Last year I worked on both the physical and mental aspect of the game. This year as I said before, I want to lead by example, so I made sure I passed my conditioning test, and I am continuing to work on the mental aspect of the game. Also, I am focused on making sure all the girls are fighting for the same thing and everyone has the same goals this year.
How do you balance your personal life, school work, and Volleyball?
Nicole: My social life has gone down a lot; I don’t get out much. I am taking six classes and graduating in December, so whenever we are on the road I’m focused on doing my homework and getting my studies done, especially because Coach takes our phones away. Sundays are homework days, but if I get everything done I get to have a bit of a social life.
So, if you actually get free time, what interests do you have you besides volleyball?
Nicole: My favorite thing to do is play beach volleyball; I also love to go fishing; my family is big on that. We love the outdoors, so anything that has to do with the outdoors, I love. 
Sydney, this is your first year as a captain. How do you feel about your new role on the team? What do you think about the transition from a regular player to a captain?
Sydney: Being with Nicole makes it easier because I know that if I feel like I’m struggling with something she is always there to pick me up as well as the rest of the team. Last year, being a setter, I had to learn how to lead the team a lot; the setter is like the quarterback of the team. People would look to me to run the plays, so basically I’m doing the same thing this year, but I feel like I have more respect because of my new role as captain.
How did it feel to have 12 road games as a season starter? What did you learn about the team during those games?
Sydney: Well, we were definitely faced with a lot of controversy because of our injuries and learning how to get together. Especially after a loss. We have to be the ones that have to bring everybody else together. So, when people have the tendency to be mad about [losing], Nicole and I have to be the ones to pick everybody up and move forward.
Nicole, what do you think about it?
Nicole: With 12 road games it is tough, because it is a completely new team. For example, I could close my eyes and would know what Sydney is going to do, because we played together, we mesh well together, but there are new people on the court, so it is hard to know how they play and to gel with them. It is our job on the court to make everyone gel together.

As a captain and a leader what are your strengths? What do you think you need to work on?
Sydney: I feel like with Nicole and I, she is the bad cop and I am the good cop. She is the one to get on the players and I will be the one to turn right back around and say, “It’s okay, you can do it, you got it.” So, we joke a lot about it on the team. She is not going to be there next year, I will have to play both of those roles myself and be able to tell people things in a constructive way while also being positive. What she [Nicole] is learning how to do this year, I will have to work on next year, because she is not going to be here next year. Being able to see when something is going wrong and address it right at that moment; I am not going to have her there anymore.
What about balancing your personal life, school work, and Volleyball?
Sydney: It is tougher for her [Nicole], because she is taking more classes. But I am shooting for straight A’s this year. Now coach makes us do tutoring hours, I can’t just go back to my room and sleep if I want to; I have to get my homework done. It is working for me this year because I have no other choice. I feel like I am doing a better job at managing my time compared to last year. As a freshman I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be, I would get more and more behind, but now I am on top of it.

So, you have tutoring classes as a whole team?
Sydney: Yes. It is mandatory for all freshmen and those who have low GPAs, but also some people go just to get their homework done. It is every other day for an hour in coach’s office or in the classroom when she is there. We are not allowed to have our phones and once a week we have to get tutoring hours from our professor or a tutor.
If you have a free time what are your interests?
Sydney: I like to go to the beach, but I also like to watch Netflix. I like movies, so sometimes I can sit on the bed and watch a whole TV series on Sunday.

Coach told me that you have special captain meetings where you are taught how to be leaders on a team. Could you tell me more about those meetings and what you have learned from them?
Nicole: At the meetings we talk to coach and tell her if we see something that is not working or something that is happening in practice. She may change something or change the way she does something that can benefit us. It is like an interactive circle that we do every Monday after practice.

Sydney: If there is something sophomores think we should be doing more of or less of in practice, and they feel that it would benefit us for an upcoming game, I will relay that information back to Coach during our meeting. 

I like how your coaches are really engaged with you to make sure that everybody is becoming a better player and student; it feels like a family.
Sydney: Yeah...

Nicole: That’s exactly what it is.

Sydney: It feels like they are our parents.
I also think you are the example of what a team should be like. For the rest of the sports teams on our campus, you are the example for them.
Thank you for coming here this morning. Good luck in your next game and the whole season.

For the latest STU Volleyball news please visit: