Coach uses adversity as inspiration

Florida A&M tennis head coach Rochelle “Nikki” Goldthreate is an example of a person who overcame adversity and used her experiences in her life to help others achieve their goals.

Utilizing her father as a mentor, Goldthreate was able to learn the fundamentals as an upcoming player which enabled her to play tennis at the junior level. She received a tennis scholarship to attend FAMU in 1998 up until her senior season.

After graduating from FAMU, Goldthreate would later progress competing on the tennis tour circuit for three years, but an accumulation of related injuries would eventually end her career as a tennis player.

Goldthreate said the injuries during her tennis career were a setback, but she was thankful for the new opportunity that would later derive.

“Due to shoulder injuries I had to give up playing tennis,” Goldthreate said. “It was during the summer of 2005 that the coaching job was open at FAMU and it was a complete blessing that I applied for it and got it.”

The sixth-year coach attributes her listening skills as being an essential part of the development of her players overall success as athletes and young women.

“I listen to my players in order to help them become better tennis players,” she said. “I listen to see what their problems are, but give them a chance to evaluate how they can improve. I want the players to feel like they have some saying within the team and that comes with me listening to their troubles.”

Junior FAMU women’s tennis player Alexis Brown said the team’s success and overall progression are due to Goldthreate’s patience and her ability to understand her players.

“She takes individual time out for all of the girls and is always there for extra hitting practice if we need it,” Brown said. “She pushes us to our full potential, but at the same time is very positive and influential guiding us sort of playing a big sister role. Coach constantly reminds us to keep a positive attitude because tennis is 70 percent mental and a positive attitude leads to a positive outcome.”

Senior broadcast student Deke Latreece Olagbegi described her relationship with coach “Nikki” as being more than just a player and a coach but someone who cares about her players well being.

“She hasn’t really treated us like we are just here to play tennis for her, but as if we were actually a part of her life,” Olagbegi said. “Her caring personality has actually helped us to mentally grow and realize that our bond goes past the game of tennis.”

Goldthreate is also a wealth of tennis wisdom. Through her wisdom she provides players with the tools they need to improve their games.

“Just loving the game, I have never lost that desire to try and help someone or my student athletes to become better players,” she said.

“Having the passion for tennis has allowed me to maintain the desire to help individuals become better.”

Goldthreate and the Lady Rattlers look to win a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title after falling short of their goal in their 2009-2010 finals appearance against South Carolina State.

“The goal is to get that MEAC championship, we just have to work harder than every one else to achieve our goal,” said Goldthreate about the MEAC title.