Love and Iron

Three sport athlete Ariana Nikolov pushes beyond her limits athletically.


Kyle Christian

Three sport athlete, Ariana Nikolov, shows of her tennis uniform in preparation for a match.

Sophomore Ariana Nikolov challenges herself every day to be the best she can be. She plays multiple sports including tennis, basketball and soccer. Nikolov is hoping to improve in each of her sports, especially tennis.

“I’m hoping to improve on my serving in tennis because I want a strong hard serve,” Nikolov said. “I chose [to play] tennis because I wanted to be a three-sport athlete this year.” 

Being a part of the sport comes with a required awareness of mental strength. Nikolov can be hard on herself when it comes to sports. Her weaknesses do not determine her mindset to feel accomplished. However, the mistakes and failures in the past won’t stop Nikolov from achieving her goals. Juggling three sports can be difficult with school work and at-home activities, but she won’t let this stop her from achieving her goals.

“Playing three sports is a challenge,” Nikolov said. “Especially trying to keep up with school work and sports after school can be a hassle.” 

Nikolov enjoys sports because she has friends to push her to her limits and having a supporter by her side makes sports less challenging. Nikolov’s teammate, sophomore Olivia Lahti, is always by her side and continues to guide her through the tough practices. She is someone Nikolov can always count on.

“Ariana is usually a positive person but whenever she is having a tough day I try and make her laugh,” Lahti said. “Throughout the practice, her mood is always better.”

Although Nikolov gives her very best and makes her team proud, without the encouragement from close friends on the team, the lack of energy would keep her from striving.

“When I get support from Lahti it really does help,” Nikolov said. “We are constantly motivating each other and she gets me excited to play matches for tennis.”

Nikolov relies on her teammates to keep her going at practice. She enjoys the bonds that she creates with her close friends on the team. Having different personalities on the team will keep up positive energy to make the practice atmosphere fun.

“My friends help me a lot in sports, I’m constantly getting motivated,” Nikolov said. “They always cheer me on in matches and games.” 

In sports, there could be captains to lead the team so that everyone is accounted for. In tennis there are no leaders or captains, instead, the team is unified as one. Basketball and soccer have advanced players to encourage and lead the team. Nikolov is trying to reach her goals every possible second that she has.

“It is very important to achieve my goals in these sports,” Nikolov said. “I take sports very seriously, I’m a very competitive person and it also shows my parents how serious I am with the sports that I play.”

Nikolov gains new skills when playing different sports. She makes the most of her time practicing her hardest and not falling behind. She puts in the maximum effort in order to be successful in her sports. Nikolov has a unique personality that brings the team together. Her determination for sports shows through her games and matches. A competitive mindset brings out the best in Nikolov.

“She is very determined and competitive which is a great skill,” Lahti said. “She’s always working with new people and has a kind heart.” 

High school athletes learn and develop new skills like teamwork, perseverance, commitment, time management and understanding the responsibility of the hard work that plays into being in different sports. Each sport that Nikolov plays gets her involved with the school and it creates memorable experiences.

“I like the different experiences I get from each of the sports that I play,” Nikolov said. “Each of them helps me gain different skills.”

An athlete is more than the uniforms, it’s more than the numbers you wear or competing at sporting events. The consistency, drive and the time it takes to become a great athlete comes with a person who is willing to sacrifice for their teammates and to never give up.

Varsity head coach Jamie D’Andrea describes Nikolov as a beast. It’s not easy being brand new to the sport but she takes one step at a time and conquers obstacles. 

“She is somebody who tries really hard at practices and matches,” D’Andrea said. “She is very competitive and wants to do well. Despite the fact that she is new to the program she is charismatic and she’s got energy and she brings it.”

The JV team is doing well and a lot of teammates have great athletic abilities. Nikolov is currently on JV and is soon hoping to make varsity within her next two years of high school. 

“While she most likely won’t play in any varsity matches this year as a first year player,” D’Andrea said. “The goal is that because she is athletic and competitive that she will earn a spot on the varsity team in the future.”

With the steps Nikolov is taking and all the hard work and effort she can achieve her personal goals. Nikolov’s time and dedication will earn her a spot on the varsity team.