Friday, September 25, 2015

The Girl's Got Guts

My favorite Oklahoma picture of all time.

What my daughter Nicole did this summer took true courage.

On August 10, 2015 the 21-year-old college senior called her head coach at the University of Oklahoma and told her she just wasn't happy.

She explained to Coach Sherri Coale that she loves the people at Oklahoma-- her teammates, coaches, the fans. LOVES them.

But she was becoming increasingly afraid that she would forever regret not following her dreams. She had always longed to play on the West Coast, and this was her last shot.

The details will remain between them, but Nicole said it could not have been a kinder, more loving conversation. Coach Coale not only validated Nicole's feelings, but she offered to grant her a release.

Our family will forever be grateful to Sherri for this.

For the first few days life was a thrill. Filled with high expectations and unlimited possibilities. Some of the top basketball programs in the country who recruited Nicole in high school, still wanted her.

We have since learned the release process is not for the faint of heart!

We first explored transferring to the SEC, where we quickly learned a two-year transfer rule exists. (You must have two full years of undergraduate education left in order to transfer. So Nicole would have had to finish on-line, take the GRE, and transfer as a graduate student. No bueno!)

Nicole, on the other hand, was elated--as she was determined to play in the PAC 12.

So, this girl who loathed the recruiting process in high school, was getting a second chance. She actually appreciated the phone calls and texts this time around! I was counting my blessings.

As Nicole narrowed down her decision, I started feeling anxious, obsessed, and hyper-worried about what was next. I feared my daughter had taken a great risk with no guarantee she'll land in a better situation than where she was before. I feared I'd steered her wrong.

That's why what happened two weeks later, makes me fall to my knees and thank the dear Lord above.

UCLA called Nicole. Legendary UCLA. John Wooden UCLA. California. Nicole's dream school.

They talked off and on for several days. Nothing serious. No promises. A week or so later, they flew us all in for an official visit, which turned out to be an intense 12-hour interview--of the whole family! Nicole played one game of pick-up with all of the girls. I left to get back to work the very same night.

The head coach must have said half a dozen times that taking on a transfer she hadn't invested years in recruiting is something they just didn't do. They weren't comfortable. And yet they kept getting random phone calls from people they trusted about this Nicole Kornet--how she can really shoot the ball and is a hard worker and a great teammate. And they seemed to truly enjoy getting to know our family.

After an excruciating two days of wondering, praying, worrying, and worrying some more, Coach Cori Close called Nicole as I was heading out to work. The head coach of UCLA Women's Basketball said her players agreed it was unanimous: Nicole was a perfect fit.

My daughter's dream came true. UCLA offered her a scholarship. She said yes.

Signing her Letter of Intent in my work cubicle in Nashville
The following week I flew my daughter to L.A. and moved her in her dorm. Her dad drove her car across the country.
Just landed at LAX

That campus is heavenly. A slice of serenity in Los Angeles, surrounded by Westwood, Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

Nicole is joyful, excited, and slightly intoxicated by the fact she is living in California.

Nicole's act of courage--to take a major risk, live boldly, and create her own happiness--has made her ultimate dream come true.

Living life with no regrets as a UCLA Bruin.

the women's basketball locker room

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