In this week's edition of Stormin' the Nest with AD Hall, women's tennis player Halley Sickling, a junior from Smyrna, talks about dealing with an injury, her close bond with her teammates, and more.
Hall: Who is your favorite professor here at Oglethorpe University?
Sickling: I have two, really. My first favorite is Professor [Katherine] Zakos. She has been my first and original favorite professor since the beginning, hands down. She is my advisor and I’ve had her for public speaking, and I’m also taking her now for one of my upper-level communications classes. She has always been super understanding of sports and travel schedules. She has always been willing to work with me, and so that is something that I really respect about her, for sure. This semester I am taking art and culture with Professor [Alan] Loehle. I’ve always had a love for art history since traveling abroad and looking through the museums there (London, Paris and Normandy). He is so passionate about art and art history and it comes through in his teachings. It makes me fall more in love with art. You can see his passion in his face, and he also brings his dog to class, so that is great! I am a communications major with a minor in business. The sport management track fell in my lap just the other day, and so I think I might follow that track. I’ll be looking to get an internship this summer.
Hall: Why do you enjoy being a Stormy Petrel?
Sickling: I love my team. We are BFF’s, we are each other’s "ride or dies!" There is a bond between our team that cannot be broken. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We don’t have drama, we go out and work our butts off. We hold each other accountable, and boost each other up. There is a bond between us that I’ve never shared with any team before. Bringing in fantastic freshmen have made us closer, better, and want to work harder for each other. We cheer each other on, and we don’t complain about showing up for 6 a.m. practices. We have high hopes for the team this year, after coming off a good year last year. We want to strive to be the best!
Hall: What is the most valuable life lesson you’ve learned through playing the sport of tennis?
Sickling: One of the biggest things this season has really been with tennis and being on a team, it really teaches you what your role on the team is when you’re working in a group or on a team. Earlier in the season, I had a torn meniscus, so I had to sit out for awhile, but my role was to get better. I showed up and cheered my team. Sitting out from the one thing they love the most, is the hardest thing I think an athlete can go through. I watched my team getting better in practice, and since I was out, that was hard to sit back and watch, but I’m so proud of them and love that for them, even though not being able to contribute is tough. I’ve been cleared to play doubles, though, so for now that will be my role on the team, and I’ll work to be the best I can be at that. [Ed. Note: Sickling competed with sophomore Shannon Cruz on Sunday in the team’s 6-3 SAA win over Berry. Sickling and Cruz won the No. 2 doubles match, 8-6.] I’m also a captain, so understanding that role and filling that role really teaches you what your job is. You may want another role, but it may not be in the plan now, so you have to work through it, and wear some other hats for a while.
Hall: What does the phrase "Give 'Em the Bird" mean to you?
Sickling: Coach has one rule, and that is, to not embarrass the team. That’s what we strive for. It’s good sportsmanship towards other teams, being a respectable team on campus, being a reputable team in the conference. Coach hears from other coaches and players that we are a kind, respectful, and sportsmanlike team. It makes Coach happy. Other teams know that when they play us they’ll get fair calls, sportsmanlike matches...we’re a good team, and we’re respectful.
Hall: What will you be doing after Oglethorpe University?
Sickling: Graduate school either at Georgia State, or anywhere, really. I’m not afraid to move away. I toured 45 schools when I was looking after high school. Not afraid to explore a different part of the country. I know I’m not done with school yet. I’m a life-long learner.
Hall: Share with me what your most memorable sports moment has been up to this point.
Sickling: I was a three-sport letter winner in high school (cheerleader, softball and tennis). My most memorable moment at Oglethorpe was when we traveled to Millsaps last season. We had one of the toughest matches there, we had never beaten them at their place, and we fought tooth and nail to win this. We were down, and in order for us to win the match, we had to go three sets and win in the next three matches. We ended up losing 5-4, but when we came off the court, Coach cried because he was so proud of us. We worked so hard, and of course when he cried, we all started crying. We’ve never seen him show that kind of emotion before. It was a really good bonding moment for us and I don’t think anyone from last year would ever forget that.
Hall: How did you first get involved with tennis?
Sickling: My mom. She is a huge tennis player, playing on three teams right now. She’s killing it, and loves it. It was always that bonding moment for us. She came to all of my matches in high school, and tries to come to all of them here, but Arkansas is a little far [when we travel to play Hendrix]. She always calls me after her matches, and we can talk tennis for hours.
Hall: Where is your favorite place on campus to chill out or just hang?
Sickling: I have a pretty busy schedule, it’s hard to pick one place. I can start in one place and end up all over. If I have time and I have to pick one, I’d say Starbucks or "Starbs," as my sorority calls it. You’re bound to run into someone you know from class, or sorority, or the team… I am in the sorority Alpha Sigma Tau (AST). I hold a leadership position with them, as the vice president for member development, I’ve been on the executive board, and I loved when I got to be involved with Greek Week. it’s the competitor in me, I think!
Hall: Are there any Coach Howell-isms that you and your team really rally behind from your head coach?
Sickling: [laughs] Yeah, so before every match we go around the circle, “coach's cliché circle,” and we go around and say all the things he says. The one thing that really sticks with me is to play within yourself, plus-or-minus 5 percent. If you practice with plus-or-minus 5 percent of what you play, and if you play with the plus-or-minus 5 percent, that’s all you can do. You cannot be someone else, you can only play within yourself. You play your game. Play within yourself, because you know yourself and your game better than anyone. He always says before every match to play within yourself.
Continue to check back each week for new editions of Stormin' the Nest with AD Hall! For a list of previous entires in the series, click here.