With locker room renovation finished, LVFL Nicky Anosike eyes cultural rebuild at Anderson County
The two-time NCAA champion is hoping a culture shift leads to even more rings.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Former Lady Vol Nicky Anosike wasn’t going to let a global pandemic stop her from setting a goal and seeing it through.
The two-time NCAA champion with Tennessee, Anosike took over the Anderson County girls basketball team back on April 13th, 2020. She remembers the date because it was supposed to be her wedding day until the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head.
But just like her days on Rocky Top, Anosike eventually got hold of her ring, marrying her husband in a small ceremony over the summer. She’s hoping a shift in culture at her new school leads to a few more rings in the future.
Before Anosike could get started coaching up her girls on the court, she felt they needed a safe space off the court - to bond over meals and homework together. With a $600 budget, Anosike set out to start her project within a project: give her new team a professional-level locker room.
After walking across the court and seeing what the boys dressing room looked like, Anosike knew that $600 would only go so far.
“To take nothing away from the boys, they deserve it. They work really, really hard and they deserve that nice locker room, but I also believed the girls deserved something nice.”
Like a great outlet pass, the Anderson County community helped set Anosike and her team up to knock down shots - and knock down barriers for years to come.
“Quite frankly the attitude of my girls was very similar to mine [when I was their age]. They were just like, ‘well they’re the boys of course they have it’. Obviously it’s too late for me to go back in time and change my mindset, but I don’t want these girls to have that mindset. I want them to have the mindset of, ‘well, the boys have it, why shouldn’t we?’”
Day by day, Anoskie started reaching out to people in the community and quickly realized the type of company she was in.
“I started thinking ‘I know someone who does floors’, so I called him I said ‘look, here’s the situation we can’t pay you, we’ve literally spent most of our money on paint’. And he said, No problem, I’ll do it for free. And he came in and he did these beautiful floors for us for free. And then I thought, you know what, this story needs to get out,” said Anosike.
Author and writer Maria Cornelius initially got the word out, and helped get the ball rolling on other projects within the locker room.
“There were so many people in the community that were saying, ‘look, it’s a pandemic - I don’t have money, but we have a TV in our guest room that no one’s using we can donate that,’ and so we have televisions. People just started donating -some people said ‘I don’t have a huge amount but I can give you 200 bucks’. All of those amounts added up to something that really allowed us to create what I believe is a professional level locker room,” said Anosike.
A new shared space to share in each other’s growth both on and off the court.
“They really don’t know how to work hard, but they want someone to teach them and once they get a taste of it, it’s like they’re addicted to it. They really love to work hard and so that’s kind of the culture I’ve been trying to implement here,” said Anosike.
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