Nourbash demonstrates resilience as a teammate

Claire Baim and Olivia Monckton

The smell of freshly baked cookies wafts throughout sophomore Niki Nourbash’s house as she removes the tray from the oven. Niki and her older sister, Chloe Nourbash, who is now a sophomore at Michigan State University, not only excel in the kitchen, but also on the gymnastics floor.

Niki, who has been a competitive gymnast since she was 6-years-old and Chloe, who has been competing for seven years, enjoy pushing each other and practicing together. Niki explained how Chloe has played a vital role in helping her develop as a gymnast overall.

“[Niki] would always come watch me compete in gymnastics,” Chloe said. “We hung out so much and painted when she couldn’t leave her bed. I would ask her questions about my gymnastics so she would feel involved.”

Niki’s injuries have been a major challenge in her career so far, her most recent injury being a torn ACL and 30 tears in her meniscus. She was only cleared to get back in the gym about three months ago — and she is still in the process of coming back. Despite the severity of her injuries, Niki explained how proud she is of the way she overcame them.

“Getting through all of my injuries is probably my proudest accomplishment because my injuries were very severe,” Niki said. “Not a lot of people are able to get through them.”

Even though she has technically recovered, her injuries continue to affect her. Niki emphasized that power used to be a strength of hers but her injuries have turned this skill into more of a weakness.

“My strengths used to be how powerful I was with tumbling and vaulting,” Niki said. “But now it’s kind of a weakness and a struggle because I had to [have] surgery.”

Niki claims that multiple people have inspired her every step of the way along her gymnastics career and have played an important role in her recovery and determination.

“[Matt Kalina, American Academy  of Gymnastics coach,] and Chloe have been my biggest supporters,” Niki stated. “They’ve been with me since I was young so it really helps to have people that really know you around to help.”

Steve Gale, varsity girls’ gymnastics coach, was not able to coach Niki for very long due to her most recent injury, but has been impressed with her resilience.

“[Niki] hurt her leg and she continued to come to practice to work on strength and flexibility,” Gale said. “When the girls went through routines and practiced she’d be there cheering them on. She was a very active and important part of our team.”

Gale described Niki as a strong athlete and an essential part of the team.

“I knew when I first met her that she was a hard worker, she was sincere, she had a good attitude towards what she was doing,” Gale said. “We had about a month together where I was really actively coaching her for competition, she had shown herself to be a hard worker and a very sincere member of the team.”

Senior Sheena Graham, varsity girls gymnast, agreed that Niki is a leader on floor who brings the team together.

“In general, I think she’s always there for you and is a really good role model,” Graham said. “She gets her stuff done and is not too serious about everything, which is good because we need someone on the team who can make us laugh.”

Because of Niki’s experience with gymnastics, she was able to give advice to her teammates —Niki explained how consistent hard work as well as doing extra practice will pay off in the long run.

“Practicing every day and working as absolutely hard as you can is important when the season comes around,” Niki said. “You’re going to end up regretting that you skipped that day in summer or didn’t work on that skill because you’re scared of it. Your team is going to need you in the season and you don’t want to regret not working hard enough.”