Davis High graduate Nikol Allison, the 2009 Blue Devil Athlete of the Year, has finally switched from bandages to basketball.
Allison has overcome a series of injuries and is having a strong season as a senior for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team. On Saturday, when the Mustangs come north to face UC Davis at The Pavilion, it will be a homecoming for Allison.
“I’m really excited to see my whole family and all my friends that can come,” Allison said. “I love the town, so it’s always nice to get back there.”
Her time is San Luis Obispo has not always been as happy. The trouble started the day before Allison’s freshman campaign was to get under way as she broke her foot in practice and had season-ending surgery a week later.
The next year, Allison trudged along for a few games but suffered from pain in her back. At first, doctors couldn’t figure out the problem, but eventually one did:
“They found that I had two fractures in my L4 vertebra,” Allison said. “They ended up doing surgery, putting two pins in my L4 vertebra, and then they took bone from my hip and put that in the fractures.”
The recovery took a full year, allowing Allison to focus on her psychology degree. Finally, as a healthy senior, she has been a steady contributor for the Mustangs in 2012-13.
Coming off the bench for second-place Cal Poly (12-8, 6-3 Big West), Allison has put up 5.0 points per game on 55.6% shooting and is grabbing 4.5 rebounds a night.
Despite her injuries, Allison said the support from the program has never wavered. Her scholarship was never pulled, and she felt like a member of the team, no matter what her job might be.
“My teammates did a really good job including me in everything, and made me feel like I was willing to be there for them every day,” she said. “I became very good at doing the clock in practice. That was kind of my thing.”
For the Allisons, basketball is a family affair. Nikol’s father Craig played college ball at the University of New Mexico, and brother David was a DHS standout until he graduated in 2006.
Rachael Allison, Nikol’s younger sister, inherited the basketball gene as well. Just a ninth-grader, Rachael has been a starter and key player this season for the Delta Valley Conference-leading Lady Blue Devils.
“(Nikol has) really helped me in so many ways,” Rachael Allison told The Enterprise last month. “She’s the reason I worked so hard to get to varsity. She started as a freshman and I wanted to do the same.”
Nikol Allison began shooting on the backyard hoop with her dad and brother when she was about 7 years old.
Shortly after, Allison decided to play on a Davis city league team. The girls’ teams were filled with less experienced players, so Allison kept playing with the boys.
By the time high school rolled around, Allison was still ahead of the other female players in her age group. She not only made the DHS varsity team as a freshman, but was a key player. Allison also began playing AAU travel ball.
The versatile Allison played some soccer and volleyball for the Blue Devils, but eventually she decided she was better at basketball than soccer, and volleyball had too little physical contact for the 6-foot-2 specimen.
Notes: When the Mustangs face UCD (9-11, 4-5) on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., the familiar faces won’t just be in the stands. When Allison was recovering from injuries the past two summers in Davis, she practiced with members of the Aggie squad. Though most of her open-gym teammates — like Vicky Deely and Kasey Riecks — are no longer on UCD roster, Allison got to know senior guard Blair Shinoda. “She’s a hard-working player, and a very nice person,” said Shinoda, who was around the gym but nursing an injury of her own when she met Allison. “I know all our girls enjoyed playing with her over the summer in open gym.” Cal Poly has a game at Pacific tonight, while the Aggies host UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m.