The University of Arizona women’s cross country team finished the 2013 season with their best finish in the school’s history. Not only were they the undefeated Pac-12 Champions, the Wildcats also placed second overall behind Providence in the NCAA championship.
The season was also exceptional for both senior team captain Elvin Kibet and Latter-Day Saint sophomore Nicci Corbin. At the NCAA championship in Terre Haute, Indiana Kibet finished 14th overall and Corbin was 22nd earning both of them First Team All-American status.
Competing at such a high level doesn’t always come easy for Corbin. It wasn’t until her senior year at Tesoro High School in Orange County, CA when she broke a school record previously held by a runner that went on to run for the University of Arizona that she realized she had great potential as a competitive runner. Up to that time soccer was her first love.
Nicci began getting recruiting calls from college coaches, but the University of Arizona was not one of them. During a campus visit to another Arizona school she and her parents took a detour to Tucson to visit the University of Arizona. She loved the campus and since the Arizona coach hadn’t contacted her she initiated the contact. The coach told her if she could beat five minutes in the mile run during an upcoming competition she would be awarded a scholarship. Since Corbin had not finished under five minutes in that event she trained with extra determination. A few weeks later at the California Invitational she finished the mile in 4 minutes 58 seconds. Nicci contacted the University of Arizona coach to tell her of the new personal best and the scholarship was hers.
Nicci Corbin has proven to be one of the team’s leaders both on and off the field. Since her freshman year at the University of Arizona the team has gathered around her for team prayer prior to competitions and at team meetings. Prayer with her teammates is a tradition that began when she was in high school and continues during her collegiate athletic career. Corbin finds that being a person of strong faith has helped her develop meaningful friendships with her teammates. When individual teammates have been nervous about upcoming competitions or were going through challenging times they have confided in Nicci to pray with them individually for added strength and comfort. She always values the opportunity to be a genuine friend and a source of emotional and spiritual strength to her team. Corbin is grateful for many powerful experiences she’s had as a collegiate athlete to comfort and strengthen others and counts herself very lucky to have so many opportunities to be an example of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In addition to cross country, Corbin competes in indoor track and outdoor track seasons so she’s training, traveling, competing and attending classes during the entire school year. Nicci credits her parents Lianne and Dean Corbin for instilling in her determination and a strong work ethic. She is usually able to turn unfavorable outcomes into a stronger drive for achieving her future goals. These are qualities she leans on frequently both on and off the field of competition since being a three sport collegiate athlete requires great sacrifice in many aspects of her life.
Nicci is a member of the Tucson Stake’s YSA 3rd Ward and serves on the Relief Society outreach committee. When asked how she interprets the often-heard church expression “lengthen your stride” the All-American runner offers a unique perspective. “As runners we are always trying to perfect our form or running technique to improve our times. As members of the Church, lengthen our stride means that we perfect our form or technique of how we follow the example of Jesus Christ to live His Gospel and become more like Him.”