Oct. 12, 2004
PICKENS FAST FACTS:
Population: Approximately 4,230
Amount of Land: 6.15 sq. kilometers
Biggest Attraction: Clemson University
Location: In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and west of Greenville.
Weather: Seasonal and comfortable.
The 411 On Anthony: All it takes is for Nikki Anthony to open her mouth and you know she’s from the heart and soul of the true south from the way she speaks. She’s a family girl who was nothing short of a two-sport standout athlete in high school where she was named not once, not twice, but three times the Gatorade Player of the Year and Ms. Volleyball in South Carolina. After leading her team to four state championships, Anthony joined Florida State last season and played volleyball and redshirted on the women’s basketball team. A 6-foot-3 center in hoops and an outside hitter on the volleyball court, she is one of the few athletes left in the United States who have the ability to compete in two sports.
She is the daughter of: Rick and Peggy
Siblings: One sister, Erikka, age 24
Animals: (Over 22)
Dogs: Dixie, Chief, Kali, B-Boy, and Storm
Cats: Chopper and Bear
Horses: Doc, Shade, Kaycee, Shadow, King, Gin, Cowboy, Buddy, and Favio
Pigs: 40 and 41
Goats, Chickens, Geese, Ducks, and Ginnies—not named!
If you had to describe what life was like growing up for you in Pickens, what memories stick out most?
Growing up in Pickens was a truly wonderful experience. Every time I left Pickens and returned, I realized how much I had taken for granted the beauty of the area, the rural lifestyle, and the love of all my family members. I know now how fortunate I have been to grow up as I did. Though life on the farm may seem harsh to some, having to feed horses at 6:00 a.m. and do other chores, to me it was incredible. There’s something uniquely pleasurable in being out in the country, with all kinds of animals, and experiencing the outdoors to the fullest. I loved being around our horses, goats, cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, geese, and yes-even the pigs.
Do you have any good animal stories?
I once took a sickly baby pig that my dad thought would die and nursed it back to good health. I took it to a box in my room and fed it with a baby bottle. I had my own horse, Miss Perfect, when I was four. With my family I would go horseback riding in the mountains around our home. I would put Jet, our tiny little dog, up on my saddle and she would ride there with me. I could even lie back on the saddle when I was sleepy, and my horse would take care of me. I loved helping Dad catch the chickens he needed. I was real fast and a big help at that.
Besides animals, what else is unique about growing up in Pickens?
Besides animals, my life in Pickens was filled with a Christian upbringing and traditional family values taught by loving parents. I have special memories of frequent family get-togethers to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and non-holidays! Great food was always included! My dad’s family would prepare delicious home cooked dishes, and cakes, pies, and biscuits from scratch. Papa and Mimi Harden (my maternal grandparents) loved to have everyone over for great meals. Papa was a master at grilling steaks, boiling shrimp, crab leg clusters, and peanuts. Mimi is renowned for her sweet iced tea, whole baked chickens, macaroni pie, and home-made ice cream. Often we’d sit and watch all the birds feeding at their kitchen window. Papa knew every kind.
Christmas and Thanksgiving were very special family days. On Christmas Eve, the Anthony family would all bring different country dishes to the log cabin that the entire Anthony family built out of pines on the property. It is a large, one-room cabin with no electricity, but with a huge fireplace. Family members took turns cleaning and decorating the cabin. One of the children would read the Christmas story from the Bible. We’d sing hymns and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Then on Christmas day, we would go to the home of my mom’s parents to exchange gifts and eat a wonderful lunch that Mimi (grandmother) had prepared. The rest of the family would bring food, too. In summer, we would gather at to the Harden lake house on Lake Keowee for family fun. We would have Easter egg hunts at the log cabin, too.
So how did sports come into your life?
From age five on, I have many fond memories of coaches and teammates in organized sports. I have played volleyball, basketball, softball, and run track. Beginning in the ninth grade I played volleyball, basketball, Junior Olympic Volleyball, and AAU Basketball. I was fortunate to play in Tampa, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Louisville to name a few. My mom drove me to volleyball practices in Columbia and basketball practices in Atlanta, both 2 ½ hours from Pickens. We made many rode trips together, got lost a lot at first, and then near the end of the season, Mom could drive as crazy as everybody else in Atlanta!
Is there anything crazy you were involved in?
I was involved in some things that some may find unusual—like our annual hog-killing, sledding down Sassafras Mountain, 4-wheeling with friends, and mud-slinging in my truck. Butchering a hog provided sausage and ham for our family. The art of sugar-curing hams and making sausage was passed on to my dad by his parents. We longed all winter for one great snowstorm that might provide a perfect foundation for sledding down the highest point in SC—the top of Sassafras Mountain, elevation 3,548 feet. Mom would be excited because she wouldn’t have school (she’s a teacher). Dad would ride us up there in his old ’86 Ford F150, 4-wheel drive truck. We’d get off at the top and sled down the mountain so fast you’d come off the road. We had to wear lights on our head to see because the truck couldn’t keep up with us going downhill. This was a thrilling (should I also say “risky?”) activity my dad and mom taught me. I thought they were getting old, but they still enjoy this! Spinning around in the mud on my 4-wheeler or Toyota truck is the bomb! I also like going hunting or fishing with my dad. I guess I like anything outdoors!
Describe Pickens for us …
My hometown and county of Pickens, South Carolina, are located in the picturesque northwestern Piedmont area of the state. Pickens County, largely rural by nature, is bordered to the north by the state of North Carolina, and the foothills of the famed Blue Ridge Mountains. Named after Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens, the county once included the areas now occupied by Anderson and Oconee counties, and was Indian Territory until 1777.
The population of Pickens is 4,230, but there are over 107, 000 in Pickens County (which includes Clemson). The elevation of the county ranges from 600 feet to 3,548 feet at the highest point, Sassafras Mountain. Popular vacation destinations include Table Rock State Park, Caesar’s Head State Park, and the excellent fishing and water recreation afforded by nearby Lakes Keeowee and Jocasee.
There are many things that make Pickens unique to me. One is the beauty of the landscape—the rolling hillsides, the picturesque mountain ranges, the flowing rivers and streams, the nearby lakes, country barns and pastures, and old grist mills. I love the fact that Pickens has four-season beauty—azaleas and daffodils in spring, fall leaf coloration, winter ice and snow, and sunny summers.
The people are mostly church-goers, kind, friendly folks who help each other. Some have a Southern drawl, but some don’t. A lot like fishing, hunting, boating, water-skiing, gardening, picnicking, hiking, and just getting outdoors. Trucks are plentiful there. The people there pray, love America, value the beauty of nature, and respect the environment. They are mostly honest, hard-working people with strong family values. They are proud of their heritage, but people of different races get along well with each other. They generally say what they mean and mean what they say. They enjoy the simple things in life. In Pickens, there is very little crime, no traffic jams, and people are opposed to too much government intervention in their lives. People in Pickens will treat you with good ‘ole Southern hospitality, but don’t take abuse from anyone. I love the people in Pickens!
Do people there consider you a local celebrity or hero?
I am certainly no hero, but I do try to be a good role model for the young players. I do think a lot of people in the area know who I am and are proud of me. There was a huge crowd of folks from Pickens—maybe 150 -supporting me at our volleyball match at Clemson last year. Even the die-hard Clemson fans (which include practically the whole town) at least wanted me to play well. They came up and spoke to me after the match and I signed programs and shirts for them. I believe the girls in the recreation program look up to me because I have enjoyed helping them in the past. I really love working with kids. I try to give back to them as others have given to me. I did speak at the annual Pickens Recreation volleyball banquet in 2002, but I am not home very much to speak at things like that.