Springfield College Twins Nikki and Nickel Hay
By: Norm Weber
May 27, 2010
BEREA, OHIO – Springfield College twins Nikki and Nickel Hay have the distinction of being here in Cleveland together as qualifiers to the Division III National Track and Field Meet.
Although it is a tall task qualifying to a meet of this level, their coming and staying together was not all that simple. The Hay twins were born in Jamaica, but at age seven, their mother left to move to the United States and after briefly staying with their step father were separated, staying in separate foster homes until getting reunited in Connecticut at age 13 just prior to the start of high school.
Because they took separate paths and the transferring between countries at different times, Nikki wound up being a grade ahead of her brother in school and graduated high school a year before he did.
Nickel saw how Nikki was able to qualify to nationals at Springfield while he was still in high school, so he decided to reunite for a second time after the brief one-year separation and attend Springfield College as a Student/Athlete as well.
Both qualified with their respective 400-meter relay teams. Nikki, who has been nominated for the At-Large Woman of the Year in the NCAA, also qualified in the long jump, triple jump and 100 dash.
“After we stayed with my step dad in Jamaica, I moved with him to Australia and my sister was staying with my aunt,” Nickel recalled. “Then I moved back to Jamaica with another aunt in Jamaica and eventually came together as a big family at 13 and moved to the United States and moved in with my mom.”
The track interest began in Jamaica.
“We were doing track in elementary school and then it was interrupted briefly,” Nickel said. “We started doing it again in high school and now in college.”
During the season, the twins get to go together to most meets, but once it gets to post-season, going together is not guaranteed since they can’t control each other’s races not what others on their respective relay teams do.
“Since we do a lot of the same events, competing for a college makes it even more fun,” Nickel said. “We can run together away from the team practice and do some of the same drills.”
They push each other as well.
“I sort of have been following in her footsteps,” Nickel said. “Seeing how well she does makes me go harder and I am sure it is the same for her.”
Nikki has qualified to nationals in all four of her years at Springfield, but this is the first time she has made it in four events.
“This time it is extra special to be here at nationals because I am doing it in four events,” said Nikki. “It was always either triple jump and long jump or triple jump or something else or just one of the jumping events each of the three previous years.”
It won’t be the last time they will be together though, since Nikki will help out with the track team while studying for her Master’s in social work next year at Springfield, which has graduate programs despite being a college as opposed to a university.
“Track is something that has kept the two of us together,” said Nikki. “Since we were separated at such a young age and had to be apart for more than three years, it meant that once we got together again that once we did things we tried to do them together so that it would be harder for us to separate again. We did it off and on when we were young but did not get serious about track until high school and after we moved to the U.S. and got back together with my mom. Track has made it so that the separation that hurt us so much would not happen again to us.”
Nikki was the indoor national triple jump champ in March.
Both of their relay trams qualified to Saturday’s finals. Nikki placed fifth, making the podium in the long jump.