photo by Rod Lentz
Walk into the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building on any given day and you will probably find Nicole Dierking, all by herself with a basketball, taking shot after shot after shot. It is a work ethic that paid dividends for the senior guard on the UMR women’s basketball team.
Dierking reached a personal milestone as the 2007 calendar year began. She became the 12th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark – and first UMR player to do so in five years – and recently completed her career as the sixth-leading scorer in school history with 1,169 points.
But personal accolades aside, what is more important to Dierking has been her part in the rise of the Lady Miner program to contender status in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
“The team’s success is always much more important,” Dierking says. “The individual stuff is nice, but meeting our team goals is bigger to me.”
Dierking has put her own personal touch on the team’s improvement. Last year was a breakout year as UMR went 17-11, 10-9 in the GLVC, and won a conference tournament game for the first time in 15 years.
In that win, Dierking was scoreless during the first half, but poured in 21 points after the intermission in UMR’s 68-55 victory over Lewis University.
Not only did she pass the 1,000-point mark, but she finished her career second in career three-point baskets at UMR and among the top 10 in school history for free throws made, assists and rebounds; she is one of only two players in school history to rank among the top 10 for career points, rebounds and assists.
She credits her shooting prowess to all of the time she has spent in the gym since her junior high school days.
“My dad would drop me off at school in the morning on his way to work and I would shoot until school started,” Dierking said. “I was probably there in the gym for about an hour before class.”
Taking those 200 to 250 shots per session – something she still does to this day – made her one of the best perimeter players to wear a Lady Miner uniform.