To say Nikki Jeck is a successful athlete is an understatement.

She has been a part of Madison Southern High Schools teams since middle school, helping each team find success.

The New Jersey native helped take Southern’s soccer team to its first region tournament appearance in five years this past season. In her junior year, the basketball team won its first-ever 44th District Title with a semifinal win over Madison Central on her last-second shot. And her freshman year the softball team won the district title and advanced all the way to the region finals before falling, 4-3, to Paul Laurence Dunbar.

“She’s very competitive. She doesn’t like to loose at a game of marbles let alone basketball, soccer or softball,” MSHS basketball coach Brian Cunigan said. “I’m really trying to prepare myself mentally for (not having her on the team next year). She’s been such a big part of Madison Southern’s family of sports.”

Soccer coach Katy Cress considers Jeck to be the backbone of the team as she helped to control the middle of the field and make big plays happen around her.

As a former Madison Southern athlete, Cress has seen a lot of talented young ladies put on the Lady Eagle uniform. But, feels Jeck has truly set herself apart.

“Her records alone say that she is most definitely one of the best female athletes to come through Madison Southern,” Cress said. “Many of the other great female athletes during Madison Southern’s 20 years have only been really good at one sport. Nikki is unique in her ability to succeed in so many different sports.”

Softball coach Brian Foley says he can’t even begin to explain what the senior has meant to his team in the last five years. The veteran coach has utilized her versatility to play her everywhere but first base and catcher. And while she’s been doing 95 percent of the team’s pitching in the past two years, he hopes to use her abilities outside the circle this season.



Setting herself apart

Cunigan will be the first to admit that individual marks are not what Jeck has been chasing.

“Last year in the district tournament she was voted the most outstanding player of the game,” Cunigan said. “Nikki would not accept that award until she went over and got all her teammates and took them out to midcourt with her.”

But, her dedication has certainly led to a number of individual accolades.

January has been a big month for the senior, who broke the all-time girls’ basketball scoring record on Jan. 3 and this past Thursday broke the school’s all-time scoring record previously set by Jared Carpenter in 1995.

Jeck scored nine points in a loss to Boyle County to give her 1,543 in her five-year career as a Lady Eagle. Carpenter had 1,540 points. She will be honored for her accomplishment on Feb. 1 before a boys’ varsity game and Carpenter will return to take part in the ceremony.

She also obliterated the Lady Eagles’ all-time assists record of 268. She currently has 513 assists. The guard also destroyed the all-time steals record (317). She currently has 464 takeaways.

Jeck scored 100 goals in four seasons of varsity soccer. She was named to the district all-tournament team four years in a row and her senior year she was named second team all-region.

She has also done the majority of the pitching the last two seasons and been the Lady Eagles’ lead-off hitter the past four seasons — getting on base 60 to 70 percent of the time.



Driving force

So what motivates this 5-foot-2 athlete?

“I’m a perfectionist in everything I do,” Jeck said.

That drive to be the best has benefited her on-and-off the field. Inside the classroom, Jeck is a 4.0 student. She knows her sports career won’t last forever and wants to ensure that she has the education to be the best at whatever she chooses.

But, in talking to all three of her coaches the resounding compliment was what an amazing person Jeck is.

“Not only is Nikki a great player, she is also a great person and that combination is hard to find,” Cress said. “She is a very unselfish player and will be greatly missed next year on the soccer field.”

Cunigan talked of her leading by example on the floor, in the classroom and in her church. And one of his favorite memories is her willingness to be available to the younger athletes.

“She always has time for the younger players. She always has time for those that aren’t even in the program, the middle school kids that might come to the game,” Cunigan said. “That’s a lot for a 17-year-old. To take time on a game night and go over and say something to them. Someone they view as a role model, that they are scared to death to even say anything to. Nikki will take time, without me having to say anything, go over and speak to a person.”



The Younger Years

So was Jeck always the rough and tumble ‘tom-boy?’

Nope.

“I was a girlie-girl,” Jeck said of her early days. “I was in dance and T-ball and gymnastics.”

Her mother got her into dancing at the tender age of two and by the time she was five she was playing T-ball. But, it wasn’t until she was eight when she was turned on to soccer and basketball.

Still living in New Jersey, she moved to Kentucky a week before she turned nine. Her brother, A.J., was playing soccer and a spot on one of the league team’s came open.

“One of the girls quit and so they needed another girl,” Jeck said. “So Mom let me play. When we moved here soccer was kind of my big thing. The ironic thing, the people we bought our house from, I was taking their son’s spot on the league soccer team.”

And basketball was just something she did in the backyard with friends in New Jersey. Her earliest recollection of her proclaimed favorite sport was playing with her friend’s older brothers in their driveway.

Her move to Kentucky was smooth, saying her family chose to come here because they already had friends and family in Madison County.

She made friends with Paige McGuire, Tiffany Willis and Sierra Merida which also made her early transition to high school sports easier.

“What helped was last year’s senior class of Paige, Tiffany and Sierra,” Jeck said of playing a big role at such a young age. “I grew up with them from the time I moved here. Them playing up here made it a lot easier for me to adjust and it felt like them playing back at Foley with me.”

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