Oct. 11, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Each Thursday, gostanford.com presents an interview between a former Stanford gymnast and team manager Tori Lewis. This week Tori interviews Nicole Ourada, a six-time All-American and three-time first-team selection. Ourada also won a pair of Pac-10 championships and an NCAA Regional championship in 2009.
The following is Tori's conversation with Nicole:
Tori: Can you catch everyone on up on what you've been doing since graduating from Stanford?
Nikki: I graduated in June of '09 and I stayed in the Bay Area for the next year, doing gymnastics coaching and tutoring. I also got married in December of '09. In the summer of 2010, my husband and I moved to Columbus, Ohio. I'm attending Ohio State, doing a graduate program to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. So I've been doing that since the fall of 2010. My husband's attending med school at Ohio State, so that's why I ended up in Ohio!
Tori: What life lesson has stuck with you from your time in the gym?
Nikki: Something that stood out is the power of a team. I know during my four years on the team we did a lot to determine each member's role on the team and made sure that everyone felt like they had a purpose. I was able to see that when everyone was doing their role, it was amazing to see what the team could do. It's so important to have a team there to push you and motivate you and support you.
Tori: What's your favorite memory from SWG?
Nikki: I don't know if I just have one! SWG had a lot of team traditions, which I think are still going on, like spirit days each week. We'd always dress up for Halloween, including the coaches. We'd do these crazy skits the night before our post-season meets. Those are honestly the things I pick out most, the fun traditions that we had.
Tori: Do you have a funniest memory from SWG?
My senior year the team crashed a high school prom after we had finished competing at NCAAs. We dressed up and just snuck right in!
Tori: What do you miss most about your time with SWG?
Nikki: I honestly miss the girls and the coaches the most. We had different team philosophy points, and one of the tenets was family. I feel like we totally embraced that role as a family. Obviously Stanford's a very special place and being a student there is very unique, and being a student-athlete is a very unique experience. As teammates, we kind of became sisters and I really miss that.
Tori: How have you stayed connected to Stanford and SWG post-graduation?
Nikki: It's a little bit harder now that we're in Ohio. I Skype with two of my classmates on a regular basis. SWG has had a few meets in the Midwest since we've moved so we try to go to those meets. My husband and I have been out to Stanford once since moving to Columbus. I think we always have in the back of our minds that we should take another trip out there.
Tori: Do you have any other thoughts or reflections about your era with SWG?
Nikki: A theme that we embraced while I was there is this idea of no regrets. My freshman year, we did not make Nationals. The following year, we just had this mantra that we were going to do everything in our control so that at the end of the season, we could look each other in the eyes with no regrets regardless of where we ended up placing. We ended up taking fifth that year, but honestly I felt like we were just able to look each other in the eyes. Even though our ultimate goal was to win Nationals, I felt like we had put in all we could. I feel like that really stuck with us. We felt like we could put everything out there and wouldn't look back and think, "we would have, could have, should have, done something differently."
Tori: Do you have any advice for the current athletes?
Nikki: Pour into the relationships that you form on campus, whether it's your teammates, friends in your dorm, whatever it is. I've found that those relationships are really the things that last beyond your four years. I also wish I would have taken more advantage of the resources that Stanford provided. Tutoring, guest lectures, all of that, I don't think I took enough advantage of those and I wish I had.