‘Keep God above everything else’: Nikki Tyree remembers her West Point years

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West Point’s Nikki Tyree. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. — In this interview, I talked to former West Point softball standout, Nikki Tyree. Nikki had a lot of memories from her school years to discuss and she made plenty of them both on and off the field. 

“My favorite sports memories were most definitely being a part of the first softball team in West Point’s school history to make it past the regional tournament and to the state tournament for sure. I will never forget the night we punched that ticket to state. All of us girls went back to the field and just hung out as a team. Our families and friends just came and celebrated with us as we rolled the tree up front of the school together and just had the best time singing, dancing, and laughing all together that night,” Tyree said. “I just made some great memories of constantly laughing with my teammates and having pregame jam sessions in the locker room to get us all hyped up for the big games ahead of us later that day. We just really built this team closer this season and it was really special to me because it was my senior year.”

She added,

“My favorite high school memories would probably be Friday night football, being on the sidelines with Donna Chamblee helping her out as a student trainer. It was so much fun and probably some of the best memories I had. Homecoming weeks were definitely something else, competing against other grades, and just having fun while doing so. The pep rallies were also fun too because of the competitiveness between grade levels in the games we would play.”

Nikki feels blessed to have played for a great team during her entire softball career and she feels lucky to have played for a pair of great coaches as well.

“This group of girls were very special to me. We had girls that could do just about anything you asked them to do on and off the field. Each one of them just set such great examples for the young girls we had looking up to us. Not only were they great athletes, they were great people all around,” Tyree said. “This group helped and prayed for every one of our families that needed it. If it was a time of need, I knew I could reach out to them for help or just to have someone to talk to. Our bond was definitely closer this year.”

She added,

“I played for some great coaches throughout my career. They were always there for me no matter what. They were like second fathers to me. They would pray with us and for us whenever we needed. They taught me that no matter what, you have to believe in yourself, keep your confidence up, and that everything will be okay in the end. You don’t have to be perfect to be great. Give it your all and go 110% in everything you do but do it all for the glory of God. They were always up to stay after practice or after games to help us if we wanted help with anything. They were there to talk to if we needed advice or just someone to talk to. They were there for us anytime we needed it and it was just so comforting to have them care for us that way.”

Nikki embraced the role of being a leader for the younger players and always looked for opportunities to help them grow.

“As an upperclassman, it is crucial to be a good leader. The younger girls need to be able to have someone they can trust, to talk to when they need it, and they need to have someone who they know cares for them because you don’t want to be afraid of you,” Tyree said. “Being strong-minded during practice and keeping them focused is important because that keeps everyone’s minds where it needs to be. Our team would cut up during practice and we would talk, but when it was time to get serious, we were ready. That’s all a part of the great leadership we have had in our program for years. It teaches us discipline and gets us ready for what is ahead in the future.”

She added,

“Being a leader on the team is definitely a hard job because you can’t be the boss of everyone, but you also can’t be goofing off during practice. You have to show hard work, determination, and dedication as well. But also showing a strong Christian character as well, you need to be able to show Christ through your actions. Do it all for God’s glory and do it all to satisfy him. If it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t be on that field playing the sport we love so much. Being able to set that example as best as I could was such a great part of being a leader of that team.”

Nikki played alongside fellow seniors in Carlie Wilkins and Braelee Quinn, and she feels blessed to have shared so many memories with them over the years.

“They were both great girls and both standout athletes. Being able to grow with them and now see them carry on with the sports they love into college, it makes me so happy for them. I feel we accomplished our goals as leaders of this team. We carried them as far as we could and built them as much as we could. We didn’t make it as far into the state tournament as we had hoped, but we made it there with a greatly bonded team with us, so it was great getting to share those memories with them.”

There was a trip that West Point made right before they started their postseason run to attend a game at the Field of Miracles. Nikki’s cousin was one of the players competing in the game and being by his side definitely changed her perspective of the game.

“It was great. It really changed my perspective of the game and changed how I take things for granted. I was able to be by my little cousin’s side that entire night. Seeing how he has so much fun out there made me realize that I take the game for granted and I don’t realize how lucky I am,” Tyree said. “It was a really impacting night in my life, just being there with him to see their way of playing the game I love so much. I feel it helped us all realize that we do take that for granted and that we should just have fun and play the game we love, which I feel helped with our deep run in the postseason.”

Nikki learned so much during her time at West Point and feels grateful to be a Warrior.

“I learned that God goes first. No matter what, God is your top priority. I have met some amazing people during my time at West Point and they have taught me to keep Him first and do everything you do for His glory. You don’t have to be perfect to be great. You’re going to mess up, but it’s going to be okay. You’re never going to be perfect, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be great,” Tyree said. “The family environment at West Point makes it so great. From the staff to the kids and to the coaches, they are all one big family. Our community has been through a lot the past year and a half. The support and love we have shown to each other and to the families in need during those times is amazing. The Christian environment is amazing as well. We join together and pray over the families and individuals in need of healing and love. We are all one big family and that is probably what I will miss the most.”

Nikki will miss being at West Point next year and shared some advice to the students that will be starting high school next year.

“I will definitely miss being around that family environment, being able to see my friends every day, laughing in the locker rooms and jamming out before games, and the late-night post-game meals on a Friday night with my closest friends,” Tyree said. “My advice to the students that will be starting high school next year would be keep God above everything else. Prioritize your relationship with Him above everything else. Friendships, sports, and school all eventually ends, but He remains the same. His love stays the same.”

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