OPPORTUNITY LOST

The Nicholls Women’s Basketball team was on the bus, 30 minutes from the arena in Katy, Texas, when the news broke. The Southland Conference had canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Senior guard Tykeria Williams says she didn’t believe it was real until later.

“It took a minute for it to actually kick in, but once we had our meeting and I saw my fellow seniors crying, I knew that it was really over,” she says. “I couldn’t believe I played in my last game of collegiate basketball unknowingly.”
Just weeks before that, Nicholls making it to Katy at all seemed bleak. The team had started off 6-16. In Southland play, the Colonels had lost their first five games.

“We had a rough rocky start,” says Airi Hamilton, a redshirt senior guard. “It was frustrating because the games were close but a lot was not going our way, and we were not finishing well.”

At that point in the season, Williams says coach DoBee Plaisance was real with the team about the prospects of making the tournament. They’d have to win their last seven games to have a hope.

“We did just that,” Williams says.

“There was no way we could go without making it to Katy. We took each game one at a time, and let nothing stop us from not making it.”

The Colonels knew they were a better team than their record. Hamilton says it was just a matter of stringing some wins together for their confidence to really kick in. And by the tournament, the team was ready to show the world just how good they were.

“We were the hottest team going into the tournament,” Hamilton says. “I felt like we would have shocked a lot of people. We definitely would have been there a while.”

 

“I was heartbroken, I had played my last game and didn’t even realize it was my last game. This tournament, I was going to go out there and leave everything on the court. That is how it was going to be, but I didn’t get the chance.” – Airi Hamilton

But they never got to the courts.
The spread of COVID-19 ended the tournament before it began. And for winter sports, like basketball, that was it. The NCAA ruled that athletes in the spring sports – not winter – would receive another year of eligibility.

“I was heartbroken,” Hamilton says. I had played my last game and didn’t even realize it was my last game. This tournament, I was going to go out there and leave everything on the court. That is how it was going to be, but I didn’t get the chance.”

Both players feel like all collegiate basketball players were robbed.

“Although I would love to come back and play for Nicholls another year and get a chance at the tournament championship, I highly doubt it will happen,” Williams says.

Despite feeling like they were stripped of the opportunity to end their basketball careers like they wanted to, the seniors had a good time at Nicholls.

Now, it is time to move on, and Williams says she plans to coach basketball and continue her passion for the game by coaching others.

“My time at Nicholls was amazing,” Williams says. “I met some great people that I will never forget, and I got the opportunity to make history and win a championship – which is one of my main reasons why I chose Nicholls. So leaving Nicholls, having met a big goal, I feel somewhat accomplished.”
Hamilton’s next step is to marry her fiance, Corey Abraham, and then return to school to be an ultrasound tech.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hamilton says.

“I have been through a lot on and off the court. It was a great journey. I am happy that I chose to come to Cajun Country.”

– Cain Madden

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