Senior twins destined to be Spartans from beginning
As the mother of four daughters who have played Division I softball, Pam Nicosia has seen her share of softball coaches through the years.
So, when she was watching her daughter Kim, who played at Florida Atlantic from 1998 to 2001, go up against the MSU softball team and head coach Jacquie Joseph, it was only natural for her to go up and tell Joseph what she thought of her coaching style after the game.
“I said, ‘Coach, can I see you for a minute?’” Nicosia said. “I go, ‘I’ve watched you coach third base, I’ve watched kids miss the ball, I’ve watched kids strike out and I want to compliment you. You’re very positive to the girls, and I don’t know what you’re saying once you get in the dugout, but that means a lot to not show a kid up on the field.’”
All about the Nicosias
Born Aug. 28, 1986, Nikki is four minutes older than her fraternal twin, Traci
Nikki Leading the team in hitting with a .390 batting average and five home runs
Traci 2007 All-Big Ten first team selection while batting a .352 average
In the family Steve, the twins’ father, played baseball in the major leagues from 1978-85, while sisters Kim and Kelly played collegiate softball at Florida Atlantic and Florida International, respectively.
Nicosia went on to tell Joseph that she wanted her two twin daughters, Nikki and Traci, who were not yet teenagers, to play for her in the future. While Joseph brushed it off at the time, she ran into the Nicosia family years later when the twins were looking to play college softball.
“I’m recruiting in Colorado and I actually see them play, and I’m like, ‘Damn, these kids are actually pretty good,’” Joseph said. “I started to recruit them and was really thrilled to get them.”
The initial thrill of signing the Nicosia twins has continued to be just that for Joseph and the MSU softball program. Now seniors, Nikki, an outfielder who is leading the team in hitting with a .390 batting average with five home runs, and Traci, a utility player who was named to the 2007 All-Big Ten first team, are key contributors on a 19-15 MSU team with Big Ten championship aspirations.
Like all great athletes, the Nicosia twins have eaten, slept and breathed softball since, well, they were born. The twins traveled to games and tournaments that Kim and their other sister Kelly, who played softball at Florida International from 2000-02, played in during the summer and were around practices all the time.
“We thought it was normal to just go and play catch every day,” Traci Nicosia said of growing up in a softball family. “But, when we started growing up people were like ‘Uh, you guys didn’t do Girl Scouts or dance?’ and we’re like ‘Nope, just softball.’”
While Pam Nicosia coached the twins when they were younger, the two also tagged along with their father, Steve, to their older sisters’ practices.
“Every day I’d come home from work and they’d say, ‘Hit me a round of balls, let’s pitch, let’s catch, let’s take some swings,’ — every day,” said Steve Nicosia, who caught in the major leagues from 1978-85.
“Then we’d go to the ballpark with the older two and I’d spend half my time on another field with them pitching balls and throwing balls.”
Although Nikki, the oldest of the fraternal twins by four minutes, and Traci share the same birthday and a love for softball, their similarities end there. Joseph describes the two as “polar opposites,” and their dad agrees.
“One we can’t get to talk and one we can’t get to shut up, it’s unbelievable,” Steve Nicosia said of Traci and Nikki, respectively.
The twins say their differences go beyond their personalities — they show up on the softball field and that translates into every aspect of their lives.
Although they are complete opposites, Nikki and Traci said they are “best friends” and believe their differences are what make them close.
After they graduate in May, Nikki plans to go to Georgia and pursue a master’s degree in special education to become a school psychologist, while Traci will graduate with a sociology degree but has no plans after that, which is something Nikki can’t stand.
“If you talk to anyone who’s close to us, I’m the organized freak — I know my future, I know the plans, I know everything,” Nikki Nicosia said.
“Then I look at her and she’s just, nothing. I’m like ‘Why don’t you know what you want to do?!’”
Regardless of what Traci decides to do and whether Nikki’s plans remain the same, one thing is certain — their MSU softball career is nearing its final out. Even though the two are in their final year of softball, the Florida natives, who also are just finishing up their fourth northern winter, said they can’t believe it’s almost over.
“It still hasn’t hit me that I’m even in college,” Nikki Nicosia said. “When I was a freshman, I was like, ‘Ah! I’m in college,’ ... and every year it’s been like that because it’s gone by so quick.
“Now that I’m a senior it still hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m almost done with school, let alone softball. It’s just going to be a really big adjustment when it really is over.”
Nikki and Traci continue their final season with the MSU softball team at 4 p.m. today against Western Michigan at Old College Field.