N I C O L E EVANGELISTA
Nicole is a bubbly and energetic young woman, who has a strong work ethic and mature outlook which has all contributed to her successes both in the BJJ scene and out.
Much of her mindset comes from her dad, who was a former Marine and tried Nicole at BJJ when she was 9. She grew up trying a variety of sports, her parents waiting for one of them to stick. You have to work to find your passion, she says, people give up too easy these days. Nicole had to train in each sport for a year, and then would decide whether to continue or move on.
Nicole first competed in BJJ when she was 9, in a local competition where she was the only child. Her dad asked if she could fight in the women’s division, and the women said yes. Her father’s advice was, ‘you’re not here to win, you’re here to do your best.’ Her dad taught her to believe that she could do anything if she wanted to.
Nicole said training in BJJ happened naturally, she took a break when she was 15 for nine months when she had started college, and when she came back to it she discovered a new found love for it. She began under Sean Stewart, then went under Nobu, and then Ben Lowry. She then took some time off school and travelled to San Jose to train with Caio Terra, who she had met and trained with when he previously visited Colorado. She loves to compete with coaches and teammates around as it feels more like a team sport then, although she says competing alone does mean that you test yourself more. Training partners can be any size, male or female, it’s all about your environment, says Nicole, good training partners use technique and you are both having fun.
Nicole competes because she enjoys it, and told us that the day she stops enjoying it is the day she stops competing. One of her favourite matches at the Worlds was when she fought Gabrielli, who had been winning double gold in everything. There was no pressure to win and she could just enjoy herself. The losses are always tough, but she told us that although she pretty sad when she loses, she knows that it’s not the end of the world and no one cares. Everyone is already onto the next tournament.
Nicole manages her college studies alongside her training. She tells us that it is about finding balance. There is only a small window of opportunity to compete in athletics and so school is very important for the future, Jiu Jitsu being her outlet, and treating school as if it were her job. This also takes the pressure off competing, as she is fighting women who train more than her, but she actually does more because she is in school.
“It’s all about self awareness, you have to know the difference between being tired and being burnt out.”
Her role models include Gary Vaynerchuk, an Entrepreneur who had a lot to do with how her mindset has developed. 90% of the game is mental. Her dad, who is the ‘epitome of hussle’, and her coach Caio Terra who always encouraged her to finish school and do well, not to mention his fabulous jiu jitsu.
Nicole said she suffered from Acne, but has an amazing skin routine from Emme Diane, which helped her skin become clear. Through puberty no one made her feel awkward, she had a good environment. She tells us that there are days when she feels like ‘being a girl’ and doing her nails and putting on a dress.
Jiu Jitsu gave her confidence. There have been times, she says, when she could have gotten in a fight, but you carry an aura if you do a martial art. Especially with something like Jiu Jitsu, knowing that you have the ability to protect yourself provides you with confidence.
Find your passion.
People are scared to try new things, but when she was young her parents put her through loads of different sports until she found the one she loved. She was told to try each one for a year and see if it sticks, and if after that time she didn’t want to continue then she could leave it. It takes time to see if you like something or not.