Last year, Maggie Nichols had just walked out of a classroom when someone told her to have a good day.
“And I was just feelin’ it,” Nichols said. “It popped into my head … I was like, ‘hmm.’”
She reached for a cell phone and turned the message inside her brain into an electronic note.
“And I tweeted it out,” Nichols said. “It made me smile and I hoped it would make other people smile.”
If you’re reading this … I hope something amazing happens to you today.
Friday, many eyes will be on Nichols when OU’s No. 1 women’s gymnastics team hosts No. 2 Florida (6:45 p.m.) at Lloyd Noble Center. The top-ranked gymnast has recorded 16 perfect 10s as a Sooner and wouldn’t mind another in front of what could be a program-record crowd.
But she hopes something amazing happens to you today.
On the mat, Nichols is famous for a dynamic skill set that has given her superstar status. She’s a five-time national team member who won the all-around individual NCAA title in 2018 and ranks No. 1 in the nation currently.
“She has a goal set and she achieves it, and now there’s another goal. She sets another goal for herself and achieves that,” OU women’s gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler said. “She’s never complacent. Great athletes never are.”
Off the mat, a year ago Nichols revealed herself as “Athlete A,” the first gymnast to report sexual abuse by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who began abusing her when she was 15 years old. Nichols joined more than 100 other women who spoke out about Nassar’s abuse.
Nichols remained focused athletically following her statement. She posted a perfect 10 in at least every event last season, becoming the first gymnast to claim back-to-back “Gym Slams.”
Her positivity never relinquished and neither did her fanbase. Now, a few times a week she lets her 44,800 Twitter followers — 203,000 people follow her on Instagram — that she wants the best for them.
“I think it’s her number one goal being in this position — she wants to help people,” Kindler said. “It’s the reason that a lot of these things have happened in the last year and she really feels a connection to people who maybe haven’t had the best road, haven’t had the easiest way around things.”
On Jan. 11 during OU’s meet against second-ranked Georgia, Nichols competed on a sore heel that had been bothering her. She limped off the floor and missed OU’s competition at North Carolina the next week. She offered to spray the bars herself, pull mats and help the Sooners in ways besides racking up high scores.
“People didn’t know — what would she do if she wasn’t able to go out there?” Kindler said. “And she did what she always does. She positively impacted our team.”
After seven days off and with limited repetitions, Nichols helped OU win the Metroplex Challenge last week, claiming a beam title to go with a team-high 9.925 score on bars.
“She thrives in times of difficulty and adversity. A lot of us can’t do it, but that is her happy place,” Kindler said. “She knows now is the time I can really grow. She gets her thing together.”
If you’re reading this, I hope something amazing happens to you today.
When Nichols sends that mantra into the world, she hopes others pull themselves together too. Her tweets receive considerable engagement in return. Hundreds “like” them and dozens more comment in response, some with their own personal stories.
“Some people are like, ‘Thank you, I needed to hear this or read that,’” Nichols said. “Some people actually say the amazing thing that happened to them. I like to read those. Some people are like, ‘Oh yeah, my daughter slept through the whole night.’ It’s fun to read the stories. I like to read everything.
“It’s really cool.”
Time/Place: 6:45 p.m. | Lloyd Noble Center
Records/Rankings: No. 1 OU vs. No. 2 Florida
TV: Fox College Sports Pacific