FAMU’s No.1 seed takes big steps

Rochelle Goldthreate, known as Nikki to those close to her, is undoubtedly one of the best sportswomen in the field of tennis that FAMU has ever seen.

Goldthreate, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, is a very dominant force on the ladies’ lawn tennis team. She is the no. 1 seed on the team, and her contributions have also put FAMU in as the no. 2 seed among the college circuit for this season.

Throughout her school years, she has maintained a solid career in the field as she has won 80 percent of her matches.

This talented young lady is very modest as she sees a lot of people who have been great help to her success in the last four years at FAMU. She thanks the coaches and the team for helping her with her development and motivation to win.

“The team, they’re great. They really motivate you when you are up or when you are down. I have a good relationship with them, and this is good because when you’re away on road trips and other matches, you need someone to to talk to as well as for support. And they are there.”

Rochelle started playing tennis at the tender age of four. Both of her parents used to play tennis, and her father, realizing that his child had the potential to be a tennis “ace”, started taking her under his wing and training her.

He became her primary mentor throughout her elementary years. His influenced continued through her high school days at John Overton High. Goldthreate’s father continues to give her pointers on her tennis career at FAMU.

The elder daughter of Joe and Patricia Goldthreate, Rochelle aspires to roll with the big guns and make her debut in the professional leagues this summer.

This will definitely be a huge transition. Although she will no longer have school work as a factor, she will still have to focus on practicing to be one of the best in the league. In fact, she may have to practice at least 2-3 times more than the 3 hours for 6 days weekly that she usually puts in at the FAMU tennis court.

Goldthreate does agree that turning professional is a major step from the university level, but she maintains that she is prepared to take that step.

She will be training from her hometown in Nashville where her father will take the reins as being her main coach and advisor once more.

Goldthreate expects some defeats in the beginning, but believes that she will soon pick up enough momentum to make her mark in the professional league.

“It’s a life thing. People will be trying to make money off their tennis skills. It’ll be tough at first, but I’ll continue to maintain my confidence and I’m going to start winning again,” she said.

“It’s a mind game. It’s all about the confidence and the mental state. Once your mind is up there, you’ll be up there.”

James Hargrove, the head coach of the FAMU women’s tennis team, echoes Goldthreate’s sentiments as he also expressed confidence in Rochelle’s ability. Having coached her throughout the four years, he has seen her develop, especially from junior year, where he says she blossomed and came into her own as a really superb athlete.

“She is really a good player. At this point, there is really no one to push her to the next level, but at the professional leagues, there’ll definitely be people to push her. She definitely has all the skills. She may be a little emotional at times, but once she learns to channel that emotion in the right way, she’ll definitely be a outstanding player. She’ll be elevated because success breeds success.”

Although tennis plays a major factor in her life, Goldthreate did find time for her academics. She has worked hard in these four years and is very happy that she will be the proud owner of a degree in Computer Information Systems come the end of this semester.

She admits that it is a time consuming process, but once you plan your day, everything should be achieved.

Goldthreate volunteers her time in her sport, where she and her father hold a tennis clinic in the summers for underprivileged children in Nashville. Goldthreate’s parents have been major inspirations in her life.

“My parents, they’re strong people. They help out with things in the community, the church, the less privileged. They are well balanced, strong and confident, and I feel good and know I can achieve when I look from where they came from to where they are at now.”

Coach Hargrove agrees that she is a role model to her peers.

” She is a model citizen. The team looks up to her on and off the court. Not many people can say that about their teammate once they’re off the court, so that’s a good thing. I haven’t had a problem with her in the four years that she has been here” he said.

The main tennis concern for Rochelle right now is the MEAC Championships, that will be held in Tallahassee from the 18th-20th April. The team will compete against 11 other teams in a chance to claim the #1 title. If they successfully accomplish this, the winners will go to the NCAA regional playoffs. This will definitely be something special for Rochelle and the members of the team to accomplish.

The team definitely wants to help her see this goal become a reality. Sahira Williams, 19, an accounting major from Antigua, brings these expectations to light.

“Nikki is a good player. She is very motivating. She really wants to win the championships, so that is also part of our motivation. We’re planning to win for Nikki,” she said.

Goldthreate, as she moves a step closer to her dream, looks back on her days at FAMU.

She admits that it was a great experience and was really glad that she chose to attend this school. As she looks forward, she is definitely ready for the challenges life will be serving her this summer.

“I’ve thought about turning pro for a while now, and I love tennis, so I’ll be ready,” Goldthreate said.