COLUMBIA — Imagine your favorite activity, something you have been doing for more than a decade. Now imagine you can’t do it anymore.
This is the challenge athletes face, whether it is because of graduation, an injury or retirement. Columbia College middle hitter Nicole Murphy is coming to terms with this challenge; she graduates in May, so her competitive volleyball years will end.
Columbia College (13-0) vs. Stephens College (4-11)
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Arena at Southwell Complex
As a child, Murphy admired her cousin, who played volleyball at Missouri State University-West Plains. Murphy attended the games and was inspired to play herself.
“She’s always just so good at it, and I always just wanted to be like my cousin," Murphy said. "I kept going to all of her games, and she encouraged me to play volleyball.”
In fifth grade, she picked up a volleyball and never looked back.
Murphy has had some minor speed bumps along the way, including battling her best friend during her freshman year at Helias High School for the number 11 jersey — the number she always liked. Murphy won and continues to wear the number for Columbia College.
As the end of her senior year draws near, it is almost time for Murphy to stop playing competitively.
“It’s kind of like, OK, what am I going to do after volleyball," Murphy said, "but also sad because I’m leaving all my girls behind.”
Murphy, a graphic design major, hopes to continue to be involved in sports through advertisements, brochures or posters. She has a huge passion for sports, especially basketball, which she played in high school.
“March Madness is the best time of year — definitely a big Tar Heels fan,” Murphy said.
The Cougars, currently ranked third in the NAIA, will most likely make it to their fall version of March Madness. The team could extend the season another month if it makes it to the NAIA Championship game Dec. 3. But this Saturday is Senior Day, the team's last game of the regular season, which marks the beginning of the end for Murphy and her fellow seniors.
“I hope I don’t cry, but I cry really easily. I’m expecting to feel sad; I’m sure there will be lots of hugs and celebration,” Murphy said. “I know my family’s going to be there, so that should be a good moment.”