Nikki Marshall did the responsible thing and checked out a few of the out-of-state schools eager to add her talents to their rosters.
Still, the recruiting process was an easy one for Marshall. She grew up in Mead and put together a phenomenal prep career at Skyline High School, often decimating opponents with former Colorado soccer coach Bill Hempen and lead assistant Paul Hogan watching from the bleachers. In spirit, Marshall was part of the Buffaloes program before ever suiting up for the black and gold.
One of the most electric careers in the 25-year history of the CU women’s soccer program was honored last month when Marshall was selected as one of nine CU legends named to the 2021 Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame class. She will have a permanent home among the best of the best in CU history, in part because she never truly considered leaving home.
“I’m a homebody. I’m very close to my family. I looked at a couple other schools kind of seriously, but I think always in the back of my mind and the bottom of my heart, it was always Colorado,” Marshall said. “My family, they’re my biggest fans and they’re the people who mean the most to me. They were at every single game tailgating. I got to play with my little sister (Shaye), she was a freshman when I was a senior. I never got closer to my sister than I did that year.
“Bill and Paul, they were able to out at a lot of my high school games, as much as they were allowed with recruiting. That made a huge difference to me. I’m a person-to-person person. Having them there, being able to see that they cared and really wanted me to play at Colorado was a big part of my decision as well.”
Few athletes in any sport have ever dominated immediately out of the gate quite like Marshall, who set single-season team records that still stand for goals (17) and points (37) as a freshman in 2006. The Buffs reached the NCAA Tournament in each of Marshall’s first three seasons at CU, and she remains the program’s all-time leader with 42 goals. Marshall also was the Buffs’ all-time points leader (93) for 10 years until Taylor Kornieck (102) topped Marshall’s mark in 2019.
A torn ACL led to the end of Marshall’s professional career in 2014, and she has since dabbled in coaching after returning to Colorado (Marshall was a volunteer assistant at CU for the 2016 season). Currently she works for Tech Data, a technology distribution company, while raising two young children in Broomfield.
When those youngsters start hearing the stories from their mother’s Hall of Fame career, they’re more likely to hear about the relationships she developed through the game than any of her particular stats.
“I’m proud of a lot of things,” Marshall said. “That’s why I believe in sport and in soccer for young kids, because I think it teaches them how to be a successful human. If I’m really looking at the big picture, there wasn’t like a moment in the game that I’m the most proud of. For me, it’s just kind of learning how to be a successful human and just learning from individuals who have done life already — coaches and mentors and teammates who have a different perspective in life.
“Soccer in general, you get people from all walks of life. Especially in the women’s game. For me, having a new perspective on life and how people live, that’s overarching biggest thing in developing me as a human. That’s what I think I’m most proud of.”