Ericson long ago established herself as a stalwart on the Golden Warrior softball team, earning the starting job in center field as a freshman.
“I walked into tryouts as a freshman thinking I would maybe make the JV team,” she said. “But I worked hard and wanted to show I had a passion for the sport and I wanted to be there. I ended up making the varsity team and, needless to say, I was pretty scared.”
Ericson proved she belonged as a freshman. She hit .328, scored 15 runs and drove in five runs in her first season. A year later, she continued to star, finishing with a .341 batting average, 19 runs scored and 14 RBIs.
The outfielder planned to keep that success going last spring — but before the snow had melted, her junior season was over.
“I was skiing and came around a gate,” she recalled. “The conditions were a little rough. I caught an edge, my ski stuck in the snow and my body went one way and my knee went another. I heard a loud ‘pop.’
“I had some shooting pain, but I didn’t want to accept that it was real, so I got up and finished the race. I got to the bottom and realized how much it hurt. When I couldn’t put any weight on it, I knew I was in trouble.”
Ericson had suffered a torn ACL and underwent surgery on April 10, 2013.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I cried. I was hurt, obviously physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I love softball, so it was so heartbreaking to be out. I was stuck on my couch most of the day and it was rough.”
Unable to play, Ericson set her sights on helping the team the only way she could.
“If we had a true leader last season, it was Nicole,” Tisbert said. “She kept everyone focused. She was an assistant coach. She explained to players what they should be doing, and would come to us and ask if we should try things. She also led the cheers.”