Women's Hoops: Senior photo gallery

On Sunday afternoon, Vanderbilt will honor the two seniors on the women's basketball team, Nicole Jules and Erica Grimaldi following the Commodores game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. In honor of the occasion, Whitney D shares photos from their four years at Vanderbilt.

(Click on thumbnails to view a larger image.)

Freshman Year

Erica and Nicole arrived at Vanderbilt in the summer of 2002. Nicole had signed a Letter of Intent in November as the only member of Jim Foster's final recruiting class at Vanderbilt. Erica had originally planned to attend Xavier as a walk-on. When Melanie Balcomb was hired at Vanderbilt, she invited Erica to walk on at Vanderbilt instead. A one-year scholarship was available, Erica accepted it, and the rest is history.

Because they were incoming freshmen, Nicole and Erica didn't get to go on the trip to Italy with the team that summer. So their first team practices were in October. Ashley Earley had torn her ACL in June, and by the time that team practices began, she had just been cleared to play.

When the Melanie Balcomb era began with a 68-51 victory at Boston University, Nicole and Erica were there.

When senior point guard Ashley McElhiney sprained her ankle in the first few minutes of the Kentucky game, Erica played almost the entire game in Vanderbilt's 84-50 victory. Afterwards, she joined junior Jenni Benningfield and sophomore Abi Ramsey at the post-game press conference.

On Senior Night, they joined their teammates in honoring Ashley McElhiney and Chantelle Anderson, the team's seniors, following a 72-60 victory over LSU.

The season ended with a trip to the NCAA tournament, where the Commodores lost in the second round to Boston College in the last few seconds of overtime. At the annual Awards Banquet, Erica and Nicole joined teammates and fans in celebrating the season. After the season ended, Nicole had surgery on her left knee.

Sophomore Year

The summer arrives, bringing with it a new season and new teammates. When the incoming freshmen reported to the weight room for the first time, the team posed for a photo.

With a home game against Auburn on Sunday, the team attended the men's game against Florida on Saturday, but stayed in the bleachers when fans stormed the court after the Vanderbilt victory.

One day after practice, Nicole and Erica posed for a photo.

After two home losses to Georgia and Florida, the team loaded the sleeper buses for the trip to Tuscaloosa. Erica and Cherish were smiling as the trip began, but the trip ended with a painful loss to the Crimson Tide. During the following week off, the team regrouped. After a close loss in an inspired effort against Tennessee, the team finished the regular season with three straight wins.

One of those victories was a 87-64 victory win over Mississippi State. Afterwards, they joined their teammates in celebrating Senior Night for Venessa Ferragamo, Jutta Korkko, Jenni Benningfield, and Hillary Hager.

After their late-season turnaround, the Commodores stormed through the SEC tournament, winning four games in four games to claim the tournament championship.

A 60-44 victory over Chattanooga in the second round of the NCAA tournament lifted Vanderbilt to the Sweet 16, where a last second loss to Stanford ended the season.

Junior Year

The summer arrives, bringing with it a new season and new teammates. One day in July after a summer workout, the team posed for a photo with strength and conditioning coach Lori Alexander.

Besides taking classes and working out, Erica and Nicole spent part of the summer working at the Vanderbilt girls basketball camps.

When fall arrived, Erica and Nicole and their teammates lined the sidewalk at the annual Founders' Walk, Vanderbilt's official welcome for new students.

As vice-president of the Student Athletes Advisory Council, Erica was responsible for leading the annual holiday party for first graders from a Nashville public school, and Nicole helped her do it.

And before you know it, Senior Night rolls around again. This time, Abi Ramsey and Ashley Earley were honored in Senior Night festivities. Nicole and Erica watched, perhaps realizing that before long, it would be their turn.

In Vanderbilt's second straight trip to the Sweet 16, the season ended with a loss to national runnerup Michigan State. At the end of the season, Nicole and Erica, now the rising seniors on the team, posed for a photo.

Senior Year

The summer arrives, bringing with it a new season and new teammates. One day in July before a summer workout, the team posed for a photo with strength and conditioning coach Lori Alexander.

Every summer brings summer workouts, but there was a difference in the summer workouts this year. For the first time since her knee surgery at the end of the her freshman season, Nicole was able to run with the team.

During the summer, the team held a car wash to raise money for a team retreat.

The football season began with a stunning 4-0 start, and Nicole was frequently seen on the front row of the student section cheering the team on.

Erica was elected to the Homecoming Court and was honored during halftime of the Homecoming game against Georgia.

At the first ever Hoops Jam!, after the team was introduced to the fans, they posed for a photo.

With the improvement in her knee, Nicole was able to be on the court more in practice, in conditioning and in games. She got the first start of her career in Vanderbilt's 82-77 comeback victory over Old Dominion in Norfolk.

At the annual Holiday Party, Nicole and Erica and their teammates played Candyland with one of guests at the party.

With the final game of the season at hand, Erica and Nicole will have their own turn at Senior Night on Sunday, when Vanderbilt hosts the South Carolina Gamecocks at 2 p.m. Senior Night activities will be held after the game, and fans are invited to stay to enjoy the festivities.

Photos copyright 2002-2006 by WhitneyD for VandyMania.com.

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