Allegheny soccer Hall of Fame adds Butler grad
College Football Videos
Mia Hamm inspired an entire generation of young soccer players.
Allison Pyewell Nichols had a chance to learn from the American legend in person — and it helped her form her own distinguished career on the soccer field as well as off it.
Nichols, a 1995 Butler graduate, will be one of six athletes inducted into the Allegheny College Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 18.
“It was definitely a surprise to hear about that,” she said. “I think about playing soccer a lot. It was such a huge part of my life. It truly developed me into the person I am. It definitely made me very good at time management skills. You don't even realize it until after the fact about all the team skills you learn and how to work with other people. It made me a competitive, driven person that I still am.”
Nichols was a standout for the Golden Tornado in high school and played many positions, even moving to sweeper to help bolster the team's defense.
“I got recruited to go to Allegheny as a sweeper,” Nichols said. “But after seeing I could bring the ball up the field, I was mostly a center midfielder throughout my college career.”
A University of North Carolina soccer camp encounter with Hamm, who was a Tar Heels standout, helped Nichols take her game to an even higher level.
“I liked to bring the ball up, but sometimes I would distribute and sometimes I would dribble more,” she said. “The summer after my sophomore year of high school, we were at that camp and Mia Hamm was my coach. She was by far the biggest influence on my career. My game just dramatically changed.
“I wanted to dribble around people a lot. She pressed upon me to get something done with the ball no matter what. My mindset changed after that. It was the most incredible experience to have. That seemed to be a turning point in how I played.”
Nichols believes she became more of a well-rounded player. It showed throughout her Allegheny career.
She was a four-year letterwinner and a two-time captain for the Gators.
She graduated in 1999 among the top four in program history in career goals (31) and points (73). She helped the team to a 52-26-3 record during her four years. Allegheny won a school record 17 consecutive games and had a 21-game home unbeaten streak that spanned the entire 1996 and '97 seasons.
In addition, she was the 1998 winner of the Allegheny Scholar-Athlete Award and 1999 North Coast Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete Award.
She was a four-time All-NCAC honoree, ending her career with three consecutive first-team nods.
Nichols is one of just five players in program history to earn three consecutive All-Great Lakes Region honors (1996-98), and she was named to the NCAC's 20th Anniversary All-Decade Team in 2003.
“You just kind of go through things and try your best. You don't think about it, but when those kinds of honors come up, it does reaffirm all the hard work you put into it and everything you worked through,” she said.
“It makes you appreciate it. It's not always easy; I spent some long nights studying. To be recognized makes you appreciate what you did do and that you stuck with it.”
Nichols applied the lessons learned from the sport to a career as a physician assistant.
Nichols' husband, Josh, was a standout for the Allegheny men's soccer team. They have three children: Seth (9), Sydney (7) and Travis (2). Both parents are active in coaching their children in soccer.
“Josh and I both love the game so much,” Nichols said. “We had such a wonderful experience playing, and it brought us so many great times and friendships. We want our kids to experience that, too.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- District college notes: St. Vincent names women’s assistant coach
- Thomas Jefferson grad stars on defensive line, and more, at Bethany
- VND Campus clippings: Leechburg graduate Barto picks up initial college victory at Gannon
- District football roundup: Cal (Pa.) staves off late IUP comeback
- Slippery Rock slips up in ‘surreal’ trip to Big House
- Former Springdale soccer star creating opportunities for La Roche teammates
- Cal U-IUP vie in Coal Bowl
- Campus clippings: Kiski Area grad Smith inducted into Bethany Hall of Fame
- District college notes: GCC grad Stone earns NEC honor
- Jeannette grad a shutdown corner, special teams standout with St. Vincent