May 7, 2012

Busy Nottingham receives Dr. Boyce M. Grier Award

By DAVID HAYS
Lander Sports Information

GREENWOOD – In what started out as a simple cure for homesickness, volleyball player Magi Nottingham built an impressive resume of extra-curricular activities during her four years at Lander.

As her freshman season of volleyball was winding down, Nottingham began to really miss home, which was nearly 600 miles away in Indianapolis.

"Going to school so far away from home and with volleyball season ending, I started getting involved in so many things so I would be too busy to get homesick," said Nottingham, who graduated from Lander on April 28.

"First, it was getting involved with Phi Mu (Sorority), and then it was Presidential Ambassadors, being an RA (Resident Assistant), student government, and then getting a job. It all kind of snowballed.

"It's not in my character to say 'no,' if I have just a little bit of time," she said, with a laugh.

Nottingham served as president of the Lander Student Government Association, was a Presidential Ambassador, worked with the Lander Technical Crew, is a member of the Phi Mu sorority, and recently received the Lander English Departmental Award.

And she was a four-year starter on the volleyball team and, through all of this, managed to maintain an impressive grade-point average.

With those activities and accomplishments under her belt, she was rewarded at Lander's 44th annual athletics awards banquet on April 23. She received the Dr. Boyce M. Grier Award as the Lander student-athlete who best exemplifies sportsmanship, integrity, pride in the university and a positive attitude.

"I did not know that I was going to win anything," she said.

Nottingham didn't think anything out of the ordinary about a text that she received from her volleyball coach, Carla Decker, before the banquet.

"She texted me earlier in the day and asked me to list some of the organizations that I was in so she could say them. I was going to be the only senior from the volleyball team at the banquet, so she said she wanted some things to say about me," Nottingham said.

"When she called my name during just the volleyball part of the awards ceremony – I also won the academic award for our team – she started listing those things."

But, much to her surprise, the script wasn't just for Decker.

"So by the end of the awards ceremony, Ms. Bell started reading off word for word the things that I had said to Coach," Nottingham said of Associate AD/Senior Woman Administrator Cheryl Bell, who was introducing the winner of the prestigious Grier Award.

"And I thought in my head, 'oh, she is so sneaky,'" Nottingham said of Decker, with a laugh.

Nottingham, an English major, is grateful for the award.

"It feels incredible. I remember being a freshman and (volleyball teammate) Sara Senn winning it. She is one of the greatest people I have ever been around. To be put in the same category and to be regarded as a good person makes me feel really great."

Word about the award was spread quickly back home in Indiana.

"I called my parents after the awards ceremony. They were very proud and really excited," Nottingham said. "My mom sent a text to all my siblings. I was getting text messages from all my family members because my mom had let everybody know that I had won something cool.

"My (volleyball) teammates were really supportive, patting me on the back and telling me that I really deserved it. Everybody has been so supportive. It has been really nice."

Nottingham had a solid volleyball career for the Lady Bearcats, totaling 993 kills and 1,156 digs in her four years.

Nottingham said what she enjoyed most about her playing days at Lander was just getting a chance to compete at the college level.

"I started playing volleyball because my sister Samantha played in high school. She got really sick. She had a lot of problems with her kidneys. It kept her from doing a lot of things in life. She wound up having a kidney removed, and it ended her volleyball career.

"I have no doubt she would have gone on to play in college. She was my hero. I just said, 'if she can't play, I am going to play.'"

Nottingham played volleyball at Lawrence North High School, famous for basketball alumni Greg Oden (No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft) and Ohio State teammate Mike Conley Jr. (who both went to school with Nottingham), and years earlier future University of North Carolina star Eric Montross.

Magi just wanted to do something Samantha didn't get the opportunity to experience, play college volleyball.

"During my junior year (of high school), I was getting some recruitment letters from some Division I schools. One was Samford. One was Jacksonville State. They kept calling me a 'utility player.' A lot of times in volleyball terms at a big school, it means maybe around your junior year you might get to play in some position that you might not be comfortable with," she said.

"I knew that I wanted to play in Division II. So I did a search of schools no further than 10 hours away (Lander is approximately nine hours from Indianapolis). I sent out a bunch of recruiting material. Lander was a school that responded to me. I came, I visited and I fell in love with the team, the campus and the coach (Decker). We made a deal and I have been here ever since.

"Just getting to play four more years and knowing that my family and Sam were home supporting me, I knew I was living a dream that she wished she could have. That's the most rewarding thing to me. She (Samantha) is doing fine now. She is a mommy now."

But after coming to Lander, Nottingham became much more than a volleyball player.

During her second year, she joined the Lander Student Government Association (SGA) and was president of the sophomore class. She would also be a junior officer and then President as a senior.

"We have really been trying to get student government off the ground this year," Nottingham said, referring to herself as well as fellow seniors Demario Watts, Chelsea Lindner and Kirsten Stewart.

"I just happened to fall under the title of president. But I think all four of us are doing about the same amount of work."

The Presidential Ambassadors program is a scholarship opportunity for students who display leadership skills and pride in being Lander students. These traits are gauged through an interview process and displayed by the student through high academic achievement.

As the face of Lander University, the Presidential Ambassadors are often the first people one meets when visiting the school. The Presidential Ambassadors give tours to prospective students, welcome visitors who are attending performances, and work in the Office of Admissions.

"It keeps you really busy and you have to really know a lot about Lander to be a Presidential Ambassador," she said.

Another activity that kept Nottingham busy was her work in Lander's Special Events department.

"I worked for (Director of Special Events) Eddie Shaw and those guys. Any time we had anything that needed sound or light or a lot of the equipment, we are there setting things up. We work all the events that are on stage. Sometimes they have concerts out on the Centennial Lawn or at the amphitheatre. We also film all the sporting events and broadcast them live," she said.

"Eddie is one of the people that knew I would be winning the award. We are like a big family. Most of the time, I don't even consider it work. I like just being at school and helping at all the events. Eddie and the crew just make it a lot of fun."

During the spring semester of her junior year, Nottingham attended the University of Winchester, a small university located in a city approximately 65 miles southwest of London, England. She was participating in Lander's Study Abroad program, which requires a GPA of approximately 3.0 or higher at the time of application.

"What was neat about Winchester is any kind of financial aid that you get at Lander is transferrable to Winchester," Nottingham said. "So all the scholarship that I had at Lander transferred to Winchester. I qualified with my grades and it was something that I really, really wanted to do. I spoke with my coach and (Lander Athletics Director) Jeff May, and he said 'go.'

"It was a great experience. I learned a whole lot about myself, going from someone who was so involved on campus here at Lander to a school where I knew nobody. It was tough for a couple of weeks, but I found my niche and made some life-long friends and had some experiences that I will never forget."

Nottingham recently got another surprise, receiving the Lander English Departmental Award. It was another honor voted on by Lander staff and "I am very thankful," she said.

Now that she has graduated, Nottingham is heading back to Indiana.

"I am moving back home to Indianapolis. There is a program through Indiana University Health that is in the neurodiagnostic field. It has nothing to do with English," she said, with a laugh. "It's all about brain studies, sleep studies and things of that nature.

"They are taking applications from now until September. I'll find out shortly after September if I get an interview. It's a competitive program. Only six applicants get accepted into the class. I am really, really hoping that I get accepted. If I do, I would start that in January 2013.

"Until then, I am going to be working at the greatest job in the world, which is for my dad (Tom Nottingham)," she said. "He is a chiropractor and when I'm there, I work as a therapy technician."

Meanwhile, she will be keeping an eye on the Lady Bearcats volleyball program, which has a new head coach in former Lander player Ashley Stathas.

"I have heard nothing but good things about her," Nottingham said. "I know the girls are all excited about the athletic program's choice of her. I am leaving behind a really good senior in Madison Kubal. She's got a presence on the court. Kiki Hennessey and Hannah (Dederick) have been around for their second year. I feel good about the future."

Nottingham has bittersweet feelings about finishing up at Lander.

"I turned in my portfolio (to the professor) today. That was the end. No more classes, no more finals," she said on Thursday afternoon. "Then I walked around campus and I'm looking at these streets of Greenwood. I spent more time in Greenwood and at Lander these past four years than I have at home.

"Sometimes it's been really hard. I have missed births of nieces and nephews, and birthdays, bridal showers, and wedding plans. But this has really been like home to me. I look around and realize I don't know when I will see these places again. It's really sad. But I am thankful for Lander and my time here. I will never forget this school and what it has meant to me."

GREENWOOD – In what started out as a simple cure for homesickness, volleyball player Magi Nottingham built an impressive resume of extra-curricular activities during her four years at Lander.

As her freshman season of volleyball was winding down, Nottingham began to really miss home, which is nearly 600 miles away in Indianapolis.

"Going to school so far away from home and with volleyball season ending, I started getting involved in so many things so I would be too busy to get homesick," said Nottingham, who graduated from Lander on Saturday.

"First, it was getting involved with Phi Mu (Sorority), and then it was Presidential Ambassadors, being an RA (Resident Assistant), student government, and then getting a job. It all kind of snowballed.

"It's not in my character to say 'no,' if I have just a little bit of time," she said, with a laugh.

Nottingham served as president of the Lander Student Government Association, was a Presidential Ambassador, worked with the Lander technical crew, is a member of the Phi Mu sorority, and recently received the Lander English Departmental Award.

And she was a four-year starter on the volleyball team while maintaining an impressive grade-point average.

With those activities and accomplishments under her belt, a big surprise awaited her at Lander's 44th annual athletics awards banquet Monday night. She received the Dr. Boyce M. Grier Award as the Lander student-athlete who best exemplifies sportsmanship, integrity, pride in the university and a positive attitude.

"I did not know that I was going to win anything," she said.

Nottingham didn't think anything out of the ordinary about a text that she received from her volleyball coach, Carla Decker, before the banquet.

"She texted me earlier in the day and asked me to list some of the organizations that I was in so she could say them (in front of the banquet crowd). I was going to be the only senior from the volleyball team at the banquet, so she said she wanted some things to say about me," Nottingham said.

"When she called my name during just the volleyball part of the awards ceremony – I also won the academic award for our team – she started listing those things."

But, much to her surprise, the script wasn't really meant for Decker.

"So by the end of the awards ceremony, Ms. Bell started reading off word for word the things that I had said to Coach," Nottingham said of Associate AD/Senior Woman Administrator Cheryl Bell, who was introducing the winner of the prestigious Grier Award.

"And I thought in my head, 'oh, she is so sneaky,'" Nottingham said of Decker, with a laugh.

Nottingham, an English major, is grateful for the award.

"It feels incredible. I remember being a freshman and (volleyball teammate) Sara Senn winning it (the Grier Award). She is one of the greatest people I have ever been around. To be put in the same category and to be regarded as a good person makes me feel really great."

Word about the award was spread quickly back home in Indiana.

"I called my parents after the awards ceremony. They were very proud and really excited," Nottingham said. "My mom sent a text to all my siblings. I was getting text messages from all my family members because my mom had let everybody know that I had won something cool.

"My (volleyball) teammates were really supportive, patting me on the back and telling me that I really deserved it. Everybody has been so supportive. It has been really nice."

Nottingham had a solid volleyball career for the Lady Bearcats, totaling 993 kills and 1,156 digs in her four years.

Nottingham said what she enjoyed most about her playing days at Lander was just getting a chance to compete at the college level.

"I started playing volleyball because my sister Samantha played in high school. She got really sick. She had a lot of problems with her kidneys. It kept her from doing a lot of things in life. She wound up having a kidney removed, and it ended her volleyball career.

"I have no doubt she would have gone on to play in college. She was my hero. I just said, 'if she can't play, I am going to play.'"

Nottingham played at Lawrence North High School, famous for basketball alumni Greg Oden (No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft) and Mike Conley Jr. (who both went to school with Nottingham), and years earlier future University of North Carolina star Eric Montross.

Magi just wanted to do something Samantha didn't get the opportunity to experience, playing college volleyball.

"During my junior year (of high school), I was getting some recruitment letters from some Division I schools. One was Samford. One was Jacksonville State. They kept calling me a 'utility player.' A lot of times in volleyball terms at a big school, it means maybe around your junior year you might get to play in some position that you might not be comfortable with," she said.

"I knew that I wanted to play in Division II. So I did a search of schools no further than 10 hours away (Lander is approximately nine hours from Indianapolis). I sent out a bunch of recruiting material. Lander was a school that responded to me. I came, I visited and I fell in love with the team, the campus and the coach (Decker). We made a deal and I have been here ever since.

"Just getting to play four more years and knowing that my family and Sam were home supporting me, I knew I was living a dream that she wished she could have. That's the most rewarding thing to me. She (Samantha) is doing fine now. She is a mommy now."

But after coming to Lander, Nottingham became much more than a volleyball player.

During her second year, she joined the Lander Student Government Association (SGA) and was president of the sophomore class. She would also be a junior officer and then President as a senior.

"We have really been trying to get student government off the ground this year," Nottingham said, referring to herself as well as fellow seniors Demario Watts, Chelsea Lindner and Kirsten Stewart.

"I just happened to fall under the title of President. But I think all four of us are doing about the same amount of work."

The Presidential Ambassadors program is a scholarship opportunity for students who display leadership skills and pride in being Lander students. These traits are gauged through an interview process and displayed by the student through high academic achievement.

As the face of Lander University, the Presidential Ambassadors are often the first people one meets when visiting the school. The Presidential Ambassadors give tours to prospective students, welcome visitors who are attending performances, and work in the Office of Admissions.

"It keeps you really busy and you have to really know a lot about Lander to be a Presidential Ambassador," she said.

Another activity that kept Nottingham busy was her work in Lander's Special Events department.

"I worked for (Director of Special Events) Eddie Shaw and those guys. Any time we had anything that needed sound or light or a lot of the equipment, we are there setting things up. We work all the events that are on stage. Sometimes they have concerts out on the Centennial Lawn or at the amphitheatre. We also film all the sporting events and broadcast them live," she said.

"Eddie is one of the people that knew I would be winning the award. We are like a big family. Most of the time, I don't even consider it work. I like just being at school and helping at all the events. Eddie and the crew just make it a lot of fun."

During the spring semester of her junior year, Nottingham attended the University of Winchester, a small university located in a city approximately 65 miles southwest of London, England. She was participating in Lander's Study Abroad program, which requires a GPA of approximately 3.0 or higher at the time of application.

"What was neat about Winchester is any kind of financial aid that you get at Lander is transferrable to Winchester," Nottingham said. "So all the scholarship that I had at Lander transferred to Winchester. I qualified with my grades and it was something that I really, really wanted to do. I spoke with my coach and (Lander Athletics Director) Jeff May, and he said 'go.'

"It was a great experience. I learned a whole lot about myself, going from someone who was so involved on campus here at Lander to a school where I knew nobody. It was tough for a couple of weeks, but I found my niche and made some life-long friends and had some experiences that I will never forget."

Nottingham recently got another surprise, receiving the Lander English Departmental Award. It was another honor voted on by Lander staff and "I am very thankful," she said.

Now that she has graduated, Nottingham is heading back to Indiana.

"I am moving back home to Indianapolis. There is a program through Indiana University Health that is in the neurodiagnostic field. It has nothing to do with English," she said, with a laugh. "It's all about brain studies, sleep studies and things of that nature.

"They are taking applications from now until September. I'll find out shortly after September if I get an interview. It's a competitive program. Only six applicants get accepted into the class. I am really, really hoping that I get accepted. If I do, I would start that in January 2013.

"Until then, I am going to be working at the greatest job in the world, which is for my dad (Tom Nottingham)," she said. "He is a chiropractor and when I'm there, I work as a therapy technician."

Meanwhile, she will be keeping an eye on the Lady Bearcats volleyball program, which has a new head coach in former Lander player Ashley Stathas.

"I have heard nothing but good things about her," Nottingham said. "I know the girls are all excited about the athletic program's choice of her. I am leaving behind a really good senior in Madison Kubal. She's got a presence on the court. Kiki Hennessey and Hannah (Dederick) have been around for their second year. I feel good about the future."

Nottingham has bittersweet feelings about finishing up at Lander.

"I turned in my portfolio (to the professor) today. That was the end. No more classes, no more finals," she said on Thursday afternoon. "Then I walked around campus and I'm looking at these streets of Greenwood. I spent more time in Greenwood and at Lander these past four years than I have at home.

"Sometimes it's been really hard. I have missed births of nieces and nephews, and birthdays, bridal showers, and wedding plans. But this has really been like home to me. I look around and realize I don't know when I will see these places again. It's really sad. But I am thankful for Lander and my time here. I will never forget this school and what it has meant to me."