The Drill: Hockey is a family tradition for Trojans' Riley Nickel

The Chad Nickel family of Worthington is all about the hockey, and Riley Nickel is a prime example of that

Worthington High School girls hockey player Riley Nickel (white and red jersey) is a fast skater and an experienced stick-handler.
Worthington High School girls hockey player Riley Nickel (white and red jersey) is a fast skater and an experienced stick-handler.
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WORTHINGTON -- Hockey is pretty much a family affair for Worthington High School senior Riley Nickel.

Her father, Chad, is the head coach of the Trojans girls hockey team, and Riley plays with a sister, Sadie, and a cousin, Peyton.

Riley is a very talented skater. She’s fast, and she’s a prolific scorer. She scored two goals, in fact, in the Trojans’ 3-2 overtime victory last week over Mankato West in the team’s first game of the 2022-23 season.

We wouldn’t want to say Riley was a prodigy at a young age, but she skipped a grade, so to speak, when she began.

“When I first started hockey I was in fourth grade and I remember skipping mini-mites and I started playing on the mites right away. Because I could play at that level right away,” she recalls.


But the sport wasn’t automatic.

“When I first started playing on skates it was pretty difficult,” Riley adds. “It was just a lot of new stuff you had to know how to do at the same time, like skating and stick-handling and shooting.”

It is often beneficial for any athlete to have a parent who is devoted to the sport, and in Riley’s case her dad, Chad, has been instrumental in his daughter’s progress.

In some families, the sport they share is brought home at the breakfast table and after practice. But not in the Nickel family, says Riley.

“We try not to talk about it much at home because he’s my dad at home and my coach at the rink.”

Fair enough. But Riley smiles when she says her dad is hard on her when he wears his coaching cap. “Just because I am his kid and he expects a lot of me,” she said.

Riley, who also participates in tennis at WHS, is happy to be on the same team as her sister and her cousin. She says they’re “super fun to play with” and that she loves just being around them.

She also says that another of her sisters, Kya, who graduated WHS in 2020, is the person who inspires her the most. “She was so amazing at every single thing that she did. And I just strive to be like her,” Riley said.


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Riley Nickel, the subject of this week’s Drill feature, spoke to The Globe about her hockey career, and a few other things, recently at the Worthington Ice Arena. You can see a video online at . Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: What do you do best as a hockey player?

ANSWER: “The thing I do best as a hockey player is probably being able to skate fast, and with the puck. I think I’m the kind of player that, I want to be the person that everyone can depend on. And I want to be the person that can give anyone a good pass at any time. And I just want to help people.”

QUESTION: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

ANSWER: “I think the most helpful advice that I’ve ever gotten was to just be better. ‘Cuz it’s so easy to just, like, hear that and you’d want to go out and be better.”

QUESTION: Tell us about some of your interests outside of sports.

ANSWER: “My hobbies outside of sports is usually -- I do really like to drive around in my car. It’s very loud, and I just love listening to it. So I would take my younger sister out and we’d drive around the lake. My car is a Jeep Cherokee Sport from, like, 2001. It’s old. The music is always, like, over 30, and that’s very loud in there. And the motor is extremely loud. I’ve gotten reported in neighborhoods before, because it’s so loud.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at
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