In our latest installment of our Student-Athlete Alumni Spotlight, we visit with former volleyball player Colleen Nilson. Colleen, who lettered for BU from 2004-2007, was the first Belmont athlete in the Division I era to be a four-time All-Conference performer. Nilson was also the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2006 and is the Belmont and A-Sun record holder for career assists.
Why did you choose Belmont?
I remember on my first visit to Belmont (and to Nashville) during the spring of 2003, I fell in love with the campus and the city almost immediately. The Curb Event Center was just being completed and Coach Webb gave me a tour which required hard hats. It was very exciting seeing it all come together. Most importantly, I remember meeting a handful of the players (at Bongo Java) and they were so welcoming. They went above and beyond to get to know me and to provide me with a sense of what Belmont was all about.
What is your fondest athletic memory at Belmont?
My fondest athletic memory at Belmont is winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the Curb Event Center in 2006 and going to the NCAA tournament for the first time in Belmont volleyball history. I remember that despite having a very good team that year, there had been many challenges and ups and downs along the way. We tackled each challenge as a team and had the opportunity to cap the season off successfully in front of our amazing friends and family at home.
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Belmont?
I was fortunate to have several coaches, athletic department administrators, and even professors greatly influence my athletic career at Belmont. I believe the two greatest influences on my athletic career at Belmont would be the Belmont players who came right before me and well as my own family supporting me from home. The girls who came right before me set an example of how we would all aim to treat one another regardless of wins and losses, role on the team, or common interests outside volleyball. We tried to carry this tradition forward and I believe it had a huge impact on how close our teams were as a group year after year and even to this day.
My amazing family – specifically my mom and older sister, Val – were very influential not only during my time at Belmont, but really from the beginning. My mom instilled in us that “you should never waste your talents.” And my sister (five years my senior) allowed me to follow her around her own volleyball tournaments and showed me everything I knew for many, many years. My entire family gave up a lot to travel all over the country year after year on volleyball adventure after adventure and I am very grateful to them.
What is the most valuable thing you gained from your time at Belmont?
The most valuable thing that I gained from my entire experience at Belmont was probably increased confidence to tackle future challenges whether academic, professional, or personal in nature. The various challenges faced during my time at Belmont - starting a new life in a city different from my hometown, developing and maintaining strong and lasting relationships with my teammates, friends and colleagues at Belmont, and finding my voice both in the classroom and on and off the court – has prepared me for many new challenged faced in my post-Belmont years and even today.
What advice would you give to current members of the volleyball team?
In the end, you’ll be amazed how quickly your time at Belmont flies by. Take time to appreciate the people around you (and your proximity to them) and all that Belmont and Nashville has to offer. You won’t believe how much effort it takes to get everyone all in the same city again in a few years!
Who was your favorite professor?
Professor Trout! She taught English literature. I think I tried to take her class at least once a year. She is hilarious and brilliant and she made the material interesting and entertaining.
My other favorites were Dr. Bisson (history), Dr. Vaughn May, and Dr. Nathan Griffith (political science)
Where do you live now?
What is your present occupation?
I am a tax attorney for American Tax Solutions. We assist businesses and individuals resolve all types of tax issues both at the Federal and State levels.
Tell us about your family.
I am lucky to have my family nearby – just about an hour away – so I am able to see them every few weeks. These days, we spend time cheering on my 12-year old nephew, Billy, as he runs around from sport to sport. Seems like just yesterday he was running out on to the Belmont court in his Batman Halloween costume for my Senior night! And my 2-year old niece, Sammy, should be ready for setting lessons any day now.