Nicole (Lawson) Hobson stays on the move. She is one of the leaders of the pickle ball group in Nashville. She works full-time at Bethesda Workshops. She and her husband, Rick, have two cats and two dogs that are part of the family. She spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play tennis at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 1994-96. Trish Duty was my coach. I told her I just couldn't play anymore because all I was doing was rehabbing.
"I had three surgeries in three years. In October of '94 I had shoulder surgery. In July of '95 I had ankle surgery. In September of '96 I had knee surgery.
"I played my sophomore and junior years.
"I never really say I played tennis at Lipscomb. I say I rehabbed at Lipscomb."
Why did you choose Lipscomb?
"I fell in love with the campus. I talked with Trish about playing tennis. My senior year in high school I tore my labrum in my shoulder. They told me to rehab.
"My parents and I thought it would be good if I went to Lipscomb, but not to play any sports. I grew up in Smyrna. I kept in contact with Trish. We would hit together to see how my rehab was going and later on Dr. Burton Elrod did my (shoulder) surgery.
"When my Dad and I toured the campus I just knew this was where I should be. I wanted to major in history and political science. My goal at that time was to go to law school.
"We met Dr. Craig Bledsoe and talked with him a lot. It was the fourth school I had visited but I just knew this was the place. I wasn't a member of the Church of Christ. I didn’t know anything about the Church of Christ.
"I didn't know there was a curfew. I was confused and surprised about that. I was an only child and I had never had a curfew. I always had to tell my parents where I was going to be. Curfew was a strange thing for me. I didn't understand it."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"We were playing in Hilton Head in a tournament during spring break. I think I had the most amazing tennis match of my life. I only made three unforced errors. It was an out-of-body kind of experience.
"Even with my surgeries and physical limitations it proved I could still play. It was the closest thing in my mind I ever had to a perfect match. Trish was like, `what happened to you?'
"Another memory was when we took the van we used for trips and moved it. Trish ran five miles every morning. That morning after her run we were all very silent. It was great because she wanted to know where the van had gone."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Three people - Trish, Jeff Spivey and Coach Don Meyer. Jeff was the men's tennis coach while I was here.
"I was released to play after five or six weeks from shoulder surgery. There were some students playing on another court. The ball rolled onto the court where I was playing. I didn't see it. I stepped on it and injured the ligaments in my ankle.
"Had it not been for Trish and Jeff I would have quit playing tennis then. The two of them were very spiritual influences. The message that I got from them is there is a reason this is happening.
“Now that I am almost 40 it is easier to see what they were talking about then. I was 19 at the time. I was impatient. I wondered why it should happen now. They brought me back to reality and told me not to worry about what was going to happen two years down the road. They told me to be focused on what I could do today.
"They had the approach that they cared about me overall. Trish actually took me to church. I started going to Woodmont Hills when they were meeting at First Christian. I usually only went to church when I visited my grandparents so I didn't have a spiritual life.
"I started attending Woodmont Hills. I met my future husband. I really understood what having a spiritual life meant and what having a personal relationship with God meant. Had it not been for Trish and Jeff I would not be where I am today.
"I witnessed Coach Meyer do so many self-less acts and no one knew about them. He did some significant things for people I knew and was so humble about it. He really didn't want to take credit. He was a life-changer in that way.
"I was lucky enough to get to know him and Carmen, his wife. Rick hung out with Coach Meyer a lot. We had the chance to ride with them to a lot of NAIA games. That was amazing."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"There are several. But I would have to say it was sitting In Trish's office and talking to her about my future and what I wanted to do.
"Out of the blue, she asked `why don't you come to church with me?' I told her I didn't think it was for me and I wasn't sure. She said, `well, let's try it'. So I met her at Woodmont Hills and went to church.
"It was a life-changing experience. I think of so many different ways my life could have gone had I not come to Lipscomb. I wouldn’t have met Trish or Jeff or Coach Meyer.
"I wouldn’t have had my shoulder fixed the right way. I wouldn't have met my husband because I wouldn't have gone to Woodmont Hills.
"I wouldn't have known anything about the Church of Christ and what it means to be a Christian. I don't think I would have the same type of faith I have now."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"That is really easy. I talk about this a lot with other people.
"Lipscomb gave me a safe place to learn how to be an adult. I learned how to be a giving Christian. I really didn't recognize that at the time, but as I look back at my time here I wouldn't do anything differently.
"I love coming back on the campus. I love being able to talk with the members of the tennis team.
"Lorena Djuknic (Lipscomb tennis player) and I are really close. I love what Jamie Aid is doing as coach. I am so excited to come and watch tennis matches and see how we as a pickle ball club can support them. I love the team. It is a special team and Lipscomb is a special place.
"My husband and I live about two miles away. This campus is like coming home again. I know it will always be a safe place and a place where people can learn not only book knowledge but to really learn life lessons that will change them forever if they are open to it."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Richard Goode. I spent a lot of hours talking to him. The majority of his classes were so discussion-based.
"What I took away from it is that there is no right or wrong way to answer something. We all have an opinion. As long as you can back your opinion up, instead of just shouting at people, that is what makes the world go round. We have to be loving and accepting of people. It is almost like he embodies what I think Christianity to be."
Where do you live now?
"I live in Oak Hill."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I work at Bethesda Workshops. We do Christian-based intensive sessions treating those with sex addictions and the partners of those with a sex addiction.
"My degrees are in history and political science. I graduated in December of 1997. I was going to go to law school but I wound up being in sales at the Tennessean for about a year and then I moved to Gannet's corporate office In Washington, D.C., for about three years. I also went to New York before I went back home. I worked for the Nashville City Paper in advertising when I moved back here.
"I have been at the Bethesda Workshops for eight years in June. Most of my friends are not surprised I am doing ministry work. I am the workshop operations director. Basically, I take the phone calls and see if they want to talk about their issues. I tell them about the workshops and see of Bethesda would be a good fit for them."
Talk about your involvement in pickle ball?
"Unofficially I am the president of Pickle Ball Nashville. Stephanie Lane (former Lipscomb tennis player and a Hall of Famer) and I play doubles together as much as we can.
"I played pickle ball in gym class when I was in middle school. Four or five years ago they started playing at A-Games Sports.
“Trish's illness brought Stephanie and me together and she is like a sister to me. We played doubles in tennis. She started playing more pickle ball and less tennis and talked me into playing more. We placed third in our first national tournament in doubles. Stephanie has been on fire ever since. She has definitely stepped up her game."
Tell us about your family.
"Rick is my husband. We have four four-legged kids - two cats and two dogs. They are all rescues."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org