Program: Bachelor of science
Hometown: Chilliwack, B.C.
High School: Chilliwack Secondary
Nicole Wierks’ time on the court was spent as part of the core group of players placed in leadership roles from their very first season with UFV. Over five seasons, Wierks and her teammates transformed the program, carrying the team on their shoulders. Wierks, who was awarded UFV’s academic athlete award for the second season in a row (with a perfect 4.33 GPA), has left a lasting impression through her contributions both on and off the court.
What was it like to win the bronze medal to cap off your career?
The nice thing about it was that we got to end on a win. For the last four years we had always ended on a loss. Last year we lost both games at nationals, the year before that we lost both games at regional nationals. It was kind of this neverending loss at the end of every year … to finally turn that around and end with a couple wins at nationals, it was so much nicer. I don’t know if I would rather lose in the final game or win in the bronze game … [but] it was nice to finish off the season that way for me because we worked so hard for so long.
How would you describe getting to play with your sister for the last four years?
Well I’ve played with her for longer than that, actually, just one year without her. It’s nice to have her around — not only are we used to having each other around, we click and we know what each other is going to do. It’s nice to have somebody to talk to after the game is over and debrief what happened, what went wrong, or vent. It’s nice to have someone who is always there for you.
What would you say to coach Al Tuchscherer after playing under him for your university career?
I just want to thank him for the five years — it’s been an amazing and life-changing experience. No matter the emotional roller-coaster that it [was], I wouldn’t change a thing. He gave me that opportunity when a lot of other people walked away. I just have extreme gratitude towards him.
You have played with Courtney Bartel for a long time both in high school and university. How has the relationship between the two of you grown throughout the years?
Courtney and I have been best friends since ever, so it was a neat experience to play with her for the full five years after our high school careers. We have become more like sisters then we ever had before. It was a good experience — I think if I was separated from her, if she was on a different team or didn’t play or I didn’t play, then we might have lost touch because that’s what happens sometimes when you take on such a commitment. I am glad we got the chance to grow and become more sister-like.
How has it been seeing other new players make the team since the year you started?
You kind of just hear about these players and you have these preconceived ideas of who they are, and it is never anything like how you expect. It’s just cool to get to know everyone as a person and to understand that everybody grows as a person and over the years people are going to change.
Do you feel like you’re leaving the program in good hands?
I think that we are going to have a lot of players stepping it up next year, not just Kayli [Sartori] and Sarah. I expect a number of players on the team to be able to. I guess it’s kind of a relief that we are gone — now they get to step up.
Is it bittersweet at all to know that you don’t get that one more season to try for a national championship after coming so close last year?
You have no idea. You want to be happy with what happens, [but] you always think one more year. I always think to myself if I had that one more year, could we get Windsor? But, you could always say that — there is always room to improve. But coming from a team that started at the very bottom, I think that this is still such a great result — that I can’t really be hoping for more. If my body could handle another year and I was allowed then maybe.
You talked about starting at the bottom — was there ever a point where it almost got to be too much, where you thought about giving up?
I don’t think you’re fully committed to the team if you [don’t] feel that at some point. We won just two games our first year. It was terrible; we didn’t know what to expect when we walked onto the CIS floor. It was three of us who had just come out of high school starting, a couple of younger players, and one veteran player. It was a struggle, but I think at the end of the year we had a decision to make — whether or not this is how we wanted it to be. Did we want to make a change. I think that that was a big game changer for me, deciding that if I am going to be here I am going to work my butt off so we can get a good result.
Do you have a favourite memory from each of your seasons as a Cascade?
There are so many good memories — the first year I think the best thing for us was winning both those games. It was kind of a little bit of a hint that yeah — we can do this one day. One day we are going to be good.
The second year is an easy one: we played Winnipeg and we were the seventh seed and they were the second and we kicked them both games. We weren’t as bad [as in the previous season], I think we were .500 or something. We walked in there thinking we had nothing to lose and we won by like 20-25 [points] both games. Knocking a team off the top was a pretty memorable experience.
Third and fourth year are kind of a blur for me. But definitely this year, besides the bronze medal game, was winning against Alberta [in the conference semifinal]. We had prepared so hard for them and we had stolen games from them in the past. Then this year they beat us in the regular season — we played terribly, so it was kind of neat to steal one. They played a good game, but I think that we just ended up on top of that one. You should have seen how excited our team was after, [that] we were going to the final game of Canada West.
If you could say anything to the girls in the locker room what would you say?
I would probably say to them [that] now it’s their time. They don’t get to rely on us anymore. It is their team now. Of course, if they want to talk to me I am here, but it’s your time to shine — your time to prove what you got going on. [And] not only to play hard but to grow as a person; there is more to life than basketball. One day you are going to be me in this situation — you aren’t going to be playing anymore. Just enjoy it while you can as much as possible.
Lastly, what is next for you?
I am hopefully going to be in med school next year. I have two interviews in Ontario, so hopefully those go well.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.