Milford native Nikki Parsley recently had the opportunity to represent the United States of America in the sport of field hockey at the Australian Youth Olympics this January. Graduating from Milford Senior High School in 2010, Nikki began playing the sport of field hockey as a child and has played at the competitive level since 6th grade. During her time at Milford High School Parsley received several honors including first team all-state her junior year and second team all-state her senior year.
Currently a junior at Northwestern University Nikki has had a very successful athletic career. In her freshmen season she played in 20 games, scored 8 goals and recorded 5 assists. Parsley scored one goal in the playoffs that year and was named to the Big Ten tournament team. In her second season she earned a first-team All-Big Ten bid, knocking in 10 goals on the season to go with an assist for 21 total points. Although missing five matches this season while playing for USA Field Hockey at the Junior Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Nikki helped the team to a third-place finish while leading the team with eight goals; she was named First Team All-West Region.
After returning home to the United States after the Australian Youth Olympics, Milford LIVE caught up with Parsley for an interview about her experience down under:
1. What does it mean for you to be representing the USA at the AYOF ?
Representing the U.S. at the Australian Youth Olympics was an honor. It is always special getting to wear the red, white, and blue. This tournament was especially important because our team is in preparation for the 2013 Junior World Cup. The top junior teams throughout the entire world will compete in Germany this summer.
2. How did it feel to be the flag bearer for the United States during the Opening Ceremonies?
I first discovered I would be the flag bearer via Facebook. My brother had posted the USA Field Hockey article on my wall. I didn’t realize how special of an opportunity it was until the opening ceremonies. I felt so much pride for the US when I walked across the stage. I also had the opportunity to meet the other flag bearers representing all of the countries present at the AYOF.
3. How are the USA girls as a team? How is the competition?
As always, the girls I played with were amazing both on and off the field. A core group of us have been together for several years now, so it is always a real treat getting to spend three weeks with them.
Additionally, the competition was very good. Australia, China, and Great Britain were all there. In comparison to the best team I have ever played against, they were not as skillful or quick as Argentina, (we played them at the Junior Pan American Games in Guadalajara this past fall), but very talented nonetheless. We lost all four matches, but made tremendous strides throughout the tournament. It’s all about being at our best by the end of July for the Junior World Cup, and I think that we took serious steps in the right direction.
4. How are you managing being a colleges student athlete work while traveling the world?
I am currently a junior at Northwesternm (NU). Everyone always asks me how I compete internationally and still manage school at Northwestern, but to be honest it is all about time management. I have been incredibly blessed with these opportunities and surrounded by a great support staff (my coaches and academic advisors). The professors at NU are also amazing. They always are more than supportive of my trips and offer to Skype me while I am away, so I don’t get too far behind. It is sometimes challenging, but making the senior women’s team is what I ultimately want to accomplish, so it is all worth it.
5. In high school did you ever imagine playing on the international stage? What is it like to play with other athletes from around the world?
Before I got heavily involved in field hockey, I always dreamed of going to the Olympics for softball. Once I decided to pursue field hockey full time, my dream naturally changed to representing the U.S.A. in field hockey. Although I am thankful for my international experiences so far, I won’t be satisfied until I represent the U.S.A. on the senior women’s team. I want to make this happen before I graduate college next spring. While this is a lofty goal, I’m not overly concerned. If this is God’s plan for my life, then that door will be opened. I’m just excited to see where He leads me.