Independence’s Nikki Gomez and Riley Wilson have been named this month’s recipients of the John Maher Scholar Athlete award.
Gomez, daughter of Dan and Cindy Gomez, is a three-year varsity member of the Lady Eagles basketball team that finished the regular season in a three-way tie atop District 11-AAA in 2013.
Not fitting the usual description by leading her team in multiple statistical categories, Indy coach Lee Nachand nominated Gomez because of her hard work and determination. Playing for Nachand since middle school, she has committed herself to the team like few athletes the coach has seen despite never being the standout athlete.
“In a climate that rewards the individual standout that receives the majority of the attention, I’m nominating Nikki for being a student-athlete that does all the unselfish work that is required in order for others to succeed,” Nachand said. “She has never requested individual attention or accolades, but instead demands her teammates to be unselfish and hard working.”
The coach credits Gomez for creating an atmosphere of leadership and teamwork that leads to success – a trait that will serve her well in her future goals where she plans to major in Elementary Education.
“We desperately need more people like Nikki Gomez to get into education,” her coach said.
Away from the court, Gomez maintains a 3.6 grade point average. She volunteers at the Eagles Nest Daycare and as a counselor at South Williamson Athletics basketball camps – formerly HCRA. She also teaches Sunday school at her church.
Wilson, son of Ace and Christi Wilson, is a two-sport athlete at Independence – a four-year member of the football team and also a four-year letterman in wrestling.
“Riley is an extremely dedicated individual that has reached high levels of success due to his hard work and mental toughness on and off the mat,” said coach Jared Grindstaff. “Riley is a wrestling team captain this season and is a great role model for our younger wrestlers. As far as competition goes, he is one of the top wrestlers in the state.”
Wilson led the Eagles to a runner-up finish in Region 6-AAA this season and a deep run in the Class AAA state tournament. He will compete in the 160-pound weight class in the TSSAA Individual State Tournament this weekend.
The senior has displayed his toughness this season, breaking his nose during the Independence Christmas Invitational this winter. Wilson won the match and continued to a second-place finish in the tournament.
He has had multiple first-place finishes in his career – including at the Freshman Grand Championships, Huntsville Invitational, and Sycamore Championships.
Wilson is a member of Health Occupational Students of America and volunteers as a nursing assistant at NHC Place. He has also been a volunteer wrestling coach at multiple summer camps.
Holding a 3.7 GPA, Wilson can be seen around town managing his family’s kettle corn business at events such as the Franklin Farmers Market, the Williamson County Fair, Dickens of a Christmas, and Pumpkinfest.
The John Maher Scholar Athlete of the Month Award, given by John Maher Builders and the Williamson Herald is decided by a four-person panel that makes their decision based on GPA, leadership qualities, community service, athletic competition, and a written essay by the student-athlete’s nominator.
Each recipient is invited to the annual scholar-athlete banquet at the end of the school year where one male and one female winner will be awarded a $2,000 scholarship.