Just a Kidd at Heart

Written by Harrison March, photo by Kelby Wingert

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It started when Nicole Blaskowsky was the lone freshman on the Stephen F. Austin High School varsity basketball team.

“Everyone called me ‘kid,’ and I’d have to go get the balls and do all that extra work,” she said, laughing. “One of my teammates that was a senior at the time started calling me ‘Kidd’ and it just picked up. I like it. I think it fits. I feel like I’ve always had an inner kid in me.”

Kidd, as she’s still known, is usually seen under the bright lights of Hilton Coliseum, making the crowd roar after hitting a clutch 3-pointer. But when the 5-foot-7-inch junior unlaces her basketball shoes and hangs up her jersey, she won’t be found in the same type of electrifying environment she creates in Hilton.

Instead, she prefers the peaceful environments – places where she isn’t Kidd the basketball player, but rather Kidd the person.

“Being at home, I can hang out with my dog and have normal conversations with my roommate or friends that has nothing to do with basketball,” Kidd said. “You go other places and it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s Kidd. She plays basketball.’ Well, there’s a little more to it than just that.”

Though Kidd enjoys putting up some extra shots as much as any guard at the Division I level, she makes sure not to live and breathe that basketball lifestyle 24/7. Her dog, Diamond, often aids in that regard. Kidd has had Diamond, a black lab/pit bull mix, since August 2013, and while they mostly just go on walks, Kidd also has plans to go deer and boar hunting with her back home in Sugar Land, Texas, someday.

“I’ve been training her, been working with her,” Kidd said. “I could bring her hunting – she’d do it – but I can’t up here [in Iowa] because the license is different. I think she has the ability to do it because at the apartment there’ll be rabbits running around and she’ll just take off on them before I even see them.”

Perhaps her favorite way to get away from the hustle and bustle of life is by fishing. From the banks of the Boone River to right off the shore of her family’s beach house in Texas, you name the fish and she’s gone after it – even the occasional shark.

It’s the serene, yet unpredictable nature of fishing that has drawn Kidd back to that pastime for so many years.

“I’ve been doing that since I was a little baby,” Kidd said with a smile. “I like the patience of it. A lot of people think, ‘Let’s go fishing. We’ll catch something today.’ It’s kind of a thrill because you never know.”

For Kidd, though, fishing is not as much about the catch as it is about the experiences shared.

“Going home and getting away from basketball and the city life, going to the beach house, get away with my buds and hang out,” Kidd said. “It’s more of a bonding experience than about catching fish.”

Though getting to spend time outdoors is a priority for her while the Iowa weather still allows, it also helps maintain an important balance between athletics and normal student life.

“I think it’s important to have the other side of it, to be just a student,” Kidd said. “If you’re having a rough practice or it gets hard on you, it’s important to just step outside of that spectrum and get yourself together as a person rather than a basketball player. When the next day comes, regroup and get back at it.”

That next day came Nov. 4, 2014, when the Cyclones stepped onto the court at Hilton Coliseum for an exhibition game against William Penn. Right away, Kidd reminded the ISU faithful that she’s back for more with a 3-pointer for the game’s first score. She followed that up Nov. 9 with a mess of 3-pointers against Winona State.

Though her playing career is little more than halfway over, Kidd already has her sights set on making an impact when her run with ISU basketball is over. Right now it’s down to two choices for her – either stay connected with the sport she loves by coaching or serve in the military if coaching doesn’t pan out. Either way, Kidd is set on using her life to change others for the better.

“It’s about giving back,” she said. “Basketball-wise, what I know about that game and sharing that with younger kids, that may not get it just as well. In the military, just to have that motivation that I’m not doing something for myself, but that it’s for literally everybody.”

If she does someday become Coach Blaskowsky and ascends to the ranks of Division I hoops, there’s one man she’d particularly enjoy a matchup with – current ISU coach Bill Fennelly.

“It would be about the team. If they want it they’ll get it,” Kidd said. “It would definitely be a respect thing – I would never not respect that man. He knows a lot about the game, and he’s taught me everything.”

Finding the right balance in all aspects of her college life is a challenge Kidd has openly embraced. Though the checklist for her remaining time in Ames is long, ranging from a deep NCAA tournament run to grabbing a couple more beef enchiladas from El Azteca, Kidd approaches it all with the mindset to make it all work out.

“Whatever I do, I’m going hard to the paint. I’m going to make something happen.”


Written by Harrison March, photo by Kelby Wingert