BROOMFIELD — Nobody would have blamed Nicki Verheyen if she had walked away after her freshman season competing for Broomfield.
Life, the rigors of arguably the most grueling sport and the heartbreak of missing out on a team state title by less than .5 points would have been enough for most to just say no thanks.
She didn't and the Eagles were better for it.
"The fight and the growth that she has shown, she battled a lot of adversity," Broomfield coach Erika Taga said. "And to overcome all that was just so cool to watch and she is thriving at Broomfield now and she has tackled those personal demons.
"And this year, she grew into the most phenomenal leader on our team."
For her efforts both in the gym and as a remarkable teammate, Verheyen is the 2016 BoCoPreps.com Gymnast of the Year.
A club gymnast leading up to her high school days, Verheyen quickly "fell in love with learning how to be a teammate, and realizing that it's not just about me," she said.
And as a senior, and as healthy as a gymnast can possibly be, she saved her best for last. In a loaded 5A field, Verheyen — who called the Eagles gymnastics team her family — scored 37.4 in the team and all-around competition and placed sixth overall.
She qualified for three individual apparatus finals — the bars, beam and vault — ultimately scoring a 9.525 on Saturday of the state meet and finishing eighth in vault.
"In the end, it's not about the scores, it's about the journey with the friends you meet along the way, competitors that become your friends and teammates that become family," said Verheyen, who has her sights set on college (not competing) at Belmont University studying psychology with an emphasis on occupational therapy.
"And the coaches who ultimately are there for you not just as a coach, but after your gymnastics career. The love for Broomfield never goes away."
Taga who lovingly called her senior a diva and a mother hen, will be forever grateful for the groundwork of success that Verheyen paved for the Eagles' underclassmen.
"For her to be here for all four years and to have made that sort of commitment and really embrace what we try to make our team about, the importance of team," said Taga, whose team finished third in the team standings earlier this month. :It was so rewarding to see her have success this year because you love it when those kids do it."