Olivia Nicholas was given an opportunity, and she seized it.
After a stellar four years at Howland, the point guard had a few opportunities to play in college, but the options weren't abundant.
That's not easy for a player with Nicholas' accolades to grasp. She is a three-time first-team Trumbull County and All-AAC selection, while also earning two All-Northeast Ohio accolades.
Tribune Chronicle file
Howland point guard Olivia Nicholas, left, drives to the basket against Warren G. Harding’s Briana McCurdy during a Division I tournament game on Feb. 23 at Akron Ellet High School.
Last season, she averaged 13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists as the Tigers finished 22-2.
Nicholas is second all-time in assists, rebounds and points at Howland.
"It wasn't an easy process, but I just had to be patient, and be ready when my opportunity came," she said.
It came when University of Charleston (W.Va.) coach Sherry Winn asked Nicholas to come down and visit. Rather than just look around campus, Winn had her play an open-gym session with the team.
"I just went down there and played as hard as I could - if I made a mistake, I just played through it," she said. "She offered me a spot in the team right there. I think they liked my aggressiveness most of all."
If anyone has seen Nicholas play, that trait pops out immediately. While running the floor, she will drive to the hole and break down defenses.
"That's one of the things I will remember most about Olivia - she's just a fearless player," Howland coach John Diehl said. "She's definitely ready to play in college. Last year she cut down on her turnovers and developed a 10-foot jump shot."
Nicholas thinks those skills will help her in college, but there's something else she learned under Diehl.
"One thing you learn at Howland is to play hard and never quit," she said. "I think that was instilled in me there, and it's how I play every time I step on the court."
That attitude was not lost on Winn.
"I am thrilled to have Olivia join the Golden Eagles. Her speed, athleticism and competitiveness is exactly what we need to put the Golden Eagles back in the winning tradition," she said in a news release. "As a guard, she has the ability to pull down big rebounds as well as create on the dribble-drive. Right now, we need a player who knows how to win, and Olivia's history proves she is a winner."