Nichole Thompson is in her fourth season on the Franklin College women’s basketball team.

A vital contributor most of her career, she has played a part in conference championships, has been among the Grizzlies’ top scorers and rebounders the past two seasons, and is playing for her third head coach in the past four years.

Call her versatile, adaptable, invaluable or, perhaps more fittingly, call her “super sub.”

A 5-foot-10 senior forward, Thompson — a former Greenwood Community High School standout — contributes starter’s production in a backup role. She’s done so since her sophomore year.

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But she got her first taste of high-stakes college basketball her freshmen year, when she played a season-high six critical minutes in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament title game against Hanover. The Grizzlies won and, as a reward, advanced to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Thompson has been a prominent performer ever since.

Franklin’s second-leading scorer last season, she is the third-

leading scorer (9.2 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (6.4 rpg) on a 4-1 team that this week began receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25.

The Grizzlies’ only loss on the season is against No. 16 DePauw, the alma mater of first-year head coach Dana Haggenjos.

An honors student who helped lead Greenwood to the 2007 Johnson County girls basketball championship, Thompson already has a job waiting at Eli Lilly upon graduation.

But first, she has unfinished business with the Grizzlies, who were selected to finish third in the race for the HCAC title in a preseason vote of league coaches.

So far, they are exceeding expectations.

What follows is a Q&A interview with Thompson.

You’ve obviously had a successful career in college. What drew you to Franklin College?

I was drawn to Franklin College because of the small class sizes and the opportunity to be involved in many activities including basketball, sorority life, and academic clubs.

Q: What is the most challenging part of the transition from high school to college basketball?

A: I think to most challenging part of the transition is the larger court size (as a post it really can take a toll) and the girls are typically bigger and stronger the first year.

Q: What do you enjoy about playing at Franklin College?

A: I enjoy that I am a student-athlete at FC. I get to focus on my academics but still get to compete in basketball.

Q: What has the challenge been like juggling academics and athletics?

A: Time management during the season. In high school I really didn’t have much homework. In college I am always writing a lab report or paper or studying for an exam. You can never study enough in college.

When basketball easily takes five hours of your life up, it’s a challenge to fit time in for homework, let alone fun.

Q: You are now playing for your third head coach in the past four years. How difficult is it adjusting to new systems and new personalities?

A: It’s definitely a challenge, but it has taught the team and myself how to deal with adversity, and it forces you to always be thinking and learning on the court.

Q: Do you have any sort of pregame ritual?

A: Our pregame ritual is usually eating breakfast or lunch together as a team. Right before the game we listen to music in the locker room. Once my biggest fan gets to the gym, my nephew, I always give him a wave.

Q: What, to date, has been your most memorable college basketball moment?

A: Cutting down the net when we won the conference championship my freshman year.

Q: Your team is right in the mix for the HCAC championship. What is everyone’s confidence like?

A: We are young, but talented. We know we can compete with anyone when we play “our” game. We are excited for our chances.

Q: What are your career goals after college?

A: I already have a job lined up at Eli Lilly as a research scientist. Eventually I plan on going back to get my masters in biochemisty and molecular biology.

Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rmorwick@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.