Big South "Musco Women's Spotlight" Features CSU's Nichole Diller October 28, 2009
Courtesy of the Big South Conference
|Photo Credit: Big South|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BigSouthSports.com) - The Big South Conference, in conjunction with Collegiate Partner Musco Sports Lighting, continues its new student-athlete feature called the "Musco Women's Spotlight," with Charleston Southern senior volleyball player Nichole Diller (Perrysburg, Ohio) as this month's profile.
Diller has appeared in all 26 of the Lady Bucs' matches this season, playing 69 of the team's 92 sets thus far. She has tallied 143 kills, a .259 attack percentage and is averaging 0.72 blocks per set for Charleston Southern. When not competing, the biology major is using her skills gained from an internship with NASA towards a career in clinical experimentation. In this month's spotlight, Diller talks about her NASA experiences, her random assortment of musical likes, her childhood nickname and her fear of white cargo vans. Some responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
At what age did you seriously begin playing volleyball? I actually was a basketball fanatic most of my life, so I didn't start playing volleyball seriously until I was 16.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic career, and why? My high school assistant basketball coach, Mr. Honner. His passion, encouragement and fun-loving personality inspired me in countless different ways. He was intense, motivating, and hilarious. He also taught me how valuable it is to love a sport as a game and to not let it be the sole identity of who you are as a person.
Why did you choose to attend Charleston Southern? On my official visit to CSU, I felt like they honestly cared about every individual student. Also, the athletic department staff not only wants to make you a better player, but also a better person.
What is your most memorable collegiate experience (athletically)? Beating College of Charleston this year is my most memorable experience. It was a huge upset and we also came back from a big deficit to win the game.
How do you want to be remembered when you leave Charleston Southern? I want to be remembered as a compassionate, hard-working, slightly dorky volleyball player who has a true love for the Lord.
What is your definition of a leader? Someone whose actions motivate others to dream more, learn more, perform more and become more.
How will your experiences as a Big South student-athlete help you in your future career? My experiences have taught me how essential time management is to success. Being able to balance school, volleyball, work and a social life has taught me how to prioritize what is important in order to be successful.
Tell us a little about your internship with NASA and the unique experiences you had. What attracted you to this opportunity? Well, ever since I was a small child I have been infatuated with NASA. I grew up in a very little town in Ohio and NASA was always something I could look up in the night's sky and feel connected to. As I grew up I began to appreciate NASA even more, which is why I applied for the internship. I applied back in March, not thinking I had a chance in getting it. It was quite a surprise and a dream come true when I found out I got it. For my internship, I characterized a panel of Epstein Barr Virus-immortalized B cells secreting human antibodies specific to the avian influenza virus H5N1 hemagglutinin - also known as the bird flu. This characteristic profile was believed to be predictive of the ability of the antibodies to neutralize the virus. The experiments were designed to determine which of the antibodies have potential therapeutic value or possible diagnostic applications.
Describe what the 50-60 hour work week entailed. What was some of the most challenging work you did? I would have class every morning, which would review several different aspects in scientific research today. After that I would head to my lab and start experimentation. Once the experiments were complete, I then headed to the library to research more about the topic and also to find sources for my paper. The hardest part of the internship was actually not NASA related work, but finding time and energy to complete my volleyball summer workouts. At the end of every long day, having to then drag myself to the gym to do volleyball workouts was not easy. This balance between the internship and volleyball was by far the hardest part in the whole experience.
Most people think of NASA as simply space exploration, but your internship focused on biological research. What are some other areas that NASA focuses on, and what areas would you have liked to experience but didn't? NASA does so many things that people would never even guess. They currently have ongoing projects dealing with effects of atmospheric aerosols on the Earth's climate, acute radiation effects, and also research on numerous pathogens. NASA is extremely beneficial to everyone, especially to those involved with the medical field. I personally would have loved to have done research involving radiation. This is a huge concern with long term space flight and also with cancer patients here on Earth too.
What was your reaction to when NASA found water on the moon? I was really excited and somewhat shocked. NASA has speculated for quite awhile that there was water on the moon, but they haven't been able to prove it. This discovery will open up many new investigations and also provides another reason as to why it is essential to have another manned space craft return to the moon.
What were some things from your NASA internship that you have applied to your current playing career, and what will help you later in life? The internship was a humbling experience that taught me how valuable and beneficial mistakes are if you are willing to learn from them. I am somewhat of a perfectionist, so messing up used to be completely unacceptable in my mind. From this experience, I learned that mistakes -- whether it is a hitting error or inconclusive experiment, can be a valuable asset in growing as a player and a person.
What do you want to do once your playing years are over? Did this internship change your career goals, and if so, how? This internship definitely changed my career goals. I have always loved clinical medicine, but from this experience I learned how rewarding and intriguing research can be. I now plan on incorporating research into my career. I am hoping to become a physician assistant that participates in clinical experimentation.
Besides the experience, what types of "mementos" did you get to take with you? Freeze dried ice cream! Space food is actually really good! I got a whole bunch of it when I left the Space Center.
If you could spend one day with a sports superstar, who would it be? Scottie Pippen.
If you could date a celebrity, who would it be? It's a tie between Brady Quinn and Andy Samberg.
What was your first job? I was a "Direct Care Specialist" for a summer camp for mentally handicap children.
What's on your IPod? I have quite a random assortment of music, but some all-time favorites are Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, Bob Marley, State Radio, Shawn McDonald, The Stones and Donavon Frankenreiter.
Who would you love to trade places with? Paula Dean. Her livelihood is to cook, laugh and be around family. Doesn't get much better than that.
Something about yourself that most people wouldn't know? I am deathly afraid of white cargo vans. I nearly have a panic attack if I have to drive next to them.
Talent you would most like to have? To play the guitar.
Favorite values in others? Honesty, resilience and being humble yet confident.
Favorite TV shows? Nip/Tuck and Chopped (Food Network).
TV character you are most like? Gumby. I am extremely flexible so I've had this nickname since I've been a child.
Name of a movie you know all the lines to? Forrest Gump.
Favorite sports event? Hockey games.
Favorite vacation spot? Denver, Colorado.
Favorite athlete? Wilma Rudolph.
What is your "Dream Job"? Practicing medicine in a Third World country in a free clinic while working alongside my family.