HARWICH – A few people were waiting outside the Monomoy Regional High School gymnasium Friday afternoon when one suddenly announced, “Nikki should be coming from track practice any moment.”
Despite the fact Nikki Awalt is competing for the Monomoy girls track team this spring, she’ll be playing a different sport at the collegiate level this time next year.
Awalt, a senior from Harwich, celebrated her decision to play women’s lacrosse at Massachusetts Maritime Academy next year during a brief ceremony held Friday afternoon at MRHS.
“I grew up playing youth lacrosse with the boys because they didn’t have a girls team, but then I joined here (at Monomoy) and they had girls lacrosse,” said Awalt. “I played in eighth and ninth grade but then I decided to try out for track because I wanted to get into better shape for field hockey because that was my main sport. Mass. Maritime doesn’t have field hockey, but the lacrosse coach reached out to me and I thought it would be a good idea to go back into it.”
Awalt has been a three-sport athlete throughout her time at Monomoy. She plays field hockey in the fall and ice hockey in the winter for the Cape Cod Furies, a co-op program comprised of girls from Monomoy, Nauset and Cape Cod Tech. In the spring, Awalt has tried various track events, though she mostly gravitates toward the discus and javelin toss in addition to relay events and the 200-meter dash.
Although Awalt might be a little rusty when she returns to the lacrosse field, she played all over the field during her past lacrosse experiences, so she feels she can be a versatile addition to the MMA program.
“Growing up I played attack,” she said. “When I played high school here, I played mid-defense. The girls game was a bit different than the boys and I had to get used to that, but I can pretty much play any position.”
The Awalt family is plenty familiar with Mass. Maritime. Nikki’s older brother, Eric, is set to graduate from MMA this spring, and the senior noted she has friends from Monomoy who are currently attending the school.
Those connections have come in handy, particularly when it comes to cooling any nerves Awalt had about the regiment academy cadets are forced to uphold.
“I was a bit nervous about all of the regiments, but one of the guys from track a couple years ago is going there now and he was saying it was cool,” explained Awalt, who added that she’s looking forward to the structure at the school.
“I really figured the structure of the whole place would help me get my work done,” she said. “They have hours open that you can talk to the professors at any time and it’s a very close-knit community, so I thought it would work out for me.”
Awalt said she intends to study energy systems engineering – “I really want to work in alternative energy,” she says – and that she’s considering joining the crew team in the fall. She’s also thought about playing on a club hockey team, though she still needs to look into all of the activities MMA offers before making any final decisions beyond lacrosse.
As much as she’s looking forward to starting her next chapter at Mass. Maritime in the fall, Awalt is focused on finishing out her senior year, which has been full of twists and turns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The whole experience of being online and in person and then both and back online again—it’s been a bit hazy,” Awalt said. “But you get through it, especially with all of your friends helping you out.”