This is me, Nicole Elise Harnisch, Certified Mental Performance Consultant – near death after finishing a half marathon a few summers ago.
Well… maybe four summers ago I guess if you don’t plan on deleting 2020 from memory. Regardless, the funny part is I didn’t even run in college. I threw stuff. Shot put, discus, and hammer. For 5 beautiful, NCAA Division II collegiate years, I trained my face off and I loved it. Lifting super heavy weights and putting them back down, moving as fast as I could for like 8 feet and then taking a break for several minutes before trying again… then I retired and thought it would be cool to teach my body how to run 13.1 consecutive miles without stopping?
I finished that last sentence with a question mark for obvious reasons. (Nothing but love for my endurance lovers out there! Ya’ll are a special breed of humans!) But I share this with you to give you a snapshot into my mindset not just as an athlete, but as a person. My attitude has always been “Give it everything you’ve got until you’ve got nothing left. And then give some more.” After 6 orthopedic surgeries (and I don’t even know how many injuries) trickled throughout those 5 years in college, I’ve learned to adapt. I’ve learned the value of rest and recovery. And I am definitely still learning. There is such a delicate balance between sport and life (but we can talk more about that later.)
Sport and competition has been the nature of my entire life. My older sister threw in college too. My older brother has always been an athlete and trains for marathons with his wife. My dad played DI and DII football, his brothers played DI football and baseball. His dad (my grandpa) was an All-American DIII tackle. Harnisch blood is chock full of that good DNA. Special thanks to the Universe for that one.
If you had asked me when I was 5 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you a “I’m playing in the WNBA,” while missing a two-hand shot on a 10 foot hoop in the driveway. I grew up playing basketball and softball in the suburbs of Chicago. After moving to Iowa before middle school (culture shock… yes), I picked up volleyball and track and field as well. Eventually I dropped softball to have summers free for weight training, club volleyball and club basketball. By my senior year I still had no idea where I wanted to go to school or for which sport. All I knew was that I had an excel spreadsheet on my desktop computer at home with like 15 different schools listed and all the criteria I thought to be important in the recruiting process.
After qualifying for the Drake relays in shot put my senior year, I got a phone call from Northwest Missouri State, a DII school in the corner of rural Missouri with a culture grounded in championships. I was ready. A few weeks later I broke my school records in shot put and discus, placed at state, and agreed to throw for 4 (or 5) more years at Northwest.
I worked hard through college. On and off the field. Made myself known in the weight room. Squatted 405 one time after two knee surgeries (will probably never do that again). Finished on the Northwest Top 10 list in the hammer, discus, and weight throws after having major hand and wrist surgery the summer before my 5th year. Graduated with honors, flew around the country a little to present my own research, started and finished a master’s degree. Worked full time during my last year of grad school while also working for my graduate assistantship position while also working on my research. You guys, grad school was wild. Talk about the grind.
After wrapping all that up with a pretty little bow (AKA two diplomas and Certification in Mental Performance Consulting via the Association of Applied Sport Psychology), I moved to Kansas City to start my life and here I am today. 28 years old with a private sport psychology practice ready to share my knowledge with the world.
For the last 5 years I have been working with athletes and performers from a variety of backgrounds and age groups through private practice. Current age range is something like 10-45 years old. Most individual clients are elite high school athletes looking to get to the next level, whether that is in life or to compete in college (and that’s my favorite client to work with.. shh). I also am contracted through the Department of Defense to provide sport psychology services to men and women in the United States Army and Army National Guard. This generally looks like teaching resiliency and performance enhancing skills.
I absolutely love what I do and wish every athlete on the planet had access to these skills. I appreciate you taking the time to read up on how the heck I got here and hope to meet you soon!