Minnesota State’s Kiana Nickel is in her senior year and wrapping up her fourth season with the Mavericks soccer team. Coming from Wayzata, Minnesota, Nickel has developed into one of the most pivotal members of the team since 2013 when she stepped onto the field for the first time.
Kiana first got her start on a team in soccer at around the age of five. Nickel comes from a family where her father played three sports and her mother participated in cross country and won a state title in basketball. It does not come as much of a surprise that she developed into the athlete she is. Coming from an active family put her on the track to playing and watching sports may have influenced her towards soccer.
“I loved watching the USA Women’s National Team while growing up and of course Mia Hamm was my idol,” Nickel said.
Kiana also looked up to former NBA MVP Kevin Garnett growing up. She noted going to Timberwolves games at a younger age and feeling the excitement building in watching him play. She spent some time playing basketball in high school in addition to her time with soccer.
“I felt as if I was a better player in soccer, although my basketball coaches would always disagree with that statement of mine,” Nickel said on which sport she feels the most excelled at.
Nickel’s biggest accomplishments in her high school days were being named to the All-State team and winning the state title with her team in her junior and senior years.
“It was the first time in school history for a team to win back-to-back titles so that was super exciting,” said Nickel.
Kiana played her freshman year in 2013 without getting a start but appeared in 22 games. She ended the year with seven goals, five points, and 19 points total. She followed the year with 20 starts and upping her stats to nine goals, 11 assists, and 29 points. It was in her sophomore year that one of her favorite memories occurred.
“My all-time favorite memory of [MNSU] was beating Grand Valley [State] my sophomore year at our home field. It was such an intense game and coming out with a win was just so exciting,” said Nickel.
Her junior year saw her start every game ending with 11 goals, seven assists, and 29 points. As the 2016 regular season is over, her stats thus far read eight goals and eight assists for 24 points. Kiana recently scored her 1,000th career point, which is a huge accomplishment for her resume. Last year, she was named an all-American. Nickel also showed team pride when talking about accomplishments from her time as a Maverick that she is proud of.
“As a team, making it to the national tournament the past two years has been fun and is pretty special as well,” Kiana said.
Nickel is majoring in communication disorders and is planning on attending graduate school for speech language pathology. Her long-term goal is to work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to work with new born babies that need help swallowing or being fed.
“You need to work up to that level first so I want to start working with babies and younger children in a medical setting or with patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries,” Kiana explained.
Kiana doesn’t plan on pursuing soccer in any capacity once this year is over, but her team mentality came through once again when asked what she would miss the most.
“It doesn’t really feel real that my soccer days are almost over. I think I’ll miss that aspect of being a part of a team and working towards something altogether,” Nickel said.
Nickel and the Minnesota State soccer team defeated Northern State 1-0 in their first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament game yesterday afternoon. Their journey will continue on Friday, November 4 against the winner of the St. Could State and Bemidji State game in the NSIC tournament. Time and location is yet to be determined.