USF sailor quickly soaks up new sport

- When Tiffany Nicholson arrived at USF St. Petersburg four years ago, she didn't exactly sail into her comfort zone. But, through sailing, she did. 

A four-sport athlete out of New Port Richey's Genesis Prep, the only Division I sport on campus was sailing.

"Once I started doing it, playing the sport, you know, it was really good to get back into another sport," said Nicholson. "It was really good."

Before coming to sailing, Tiffany played volleyball, basketball and soccer. Believe it or not, the skills from those sports translate very well to the water.

"She's strong and yet, also quick," said Allison Jolly, Tiffany's coach. "If you're just strong -- you know, massive, think football-player strong -- you don't generally move across the boat. You also have to be light on your feet, because if you're too big, the boat will tip and go very slowly."

Under Jolly, who was the 1988 Olympic gold medalist, Tiffany picked up sailing quicker than most. 

"I was a walk-on, you know, I didn't have that experience," said Nicholson. "She [Jolly] did take the time to help me, especially my first year and semester, so that really did mean a lot for her to help me and coach me through that."

It was a challenge transitioning from land sports to one on the water, plus learning the sailing terminology. But, since then, Tiffany's young career has been a breeze.

And a few years after she was introduced to the sport, she'll head to Charleston, South Carolina for nationals next week.

"Most sailors on my team, if they came as sailors, started when they were 10 years old, even before that," said Jolly. "For her to get to the level of going to the nationals when she's been sailing for three years is just phenomenal."

"I don't know quite what to expect, but I know that I'm really looking forward to it," said Nicholson. "To be able to be selected to go to nationals, is really an awesome opportunity that I'm really grateful for."

The ICSA Women's Nationals Semifinals take place May 23. 

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