Whitby’s American Eagle set to fly nest

Nicki McClure, back row, third from right, with her North Riding Eagles teammates
Nicki McClure, back row, third from right, with her North Riding Eagles teammates

High-flying North Riding Eagles Volleyball Club’s all-American star Nicki McClure has announced she is to return to the USA at the end of the season.

The news comes as a double blow for the Whitby-based National League Division Two North side, for whom the North Carolinan both plays and coaches.

“Nicki is going to be dearly missed in Whitby on the court and even more off it,” Eagles head coach Anthony Laffan said.

“We have mixed feelings sadness and gratitude. We are not only losing a great player, mentor and coach, we are also losing a true friend.

“The team and coaching staff have so much to be thankful for with regards Nicki’s outstanding contribution.”

McClure is highly regarded back in America, having starred for Liberty Flames in The US NCAA First Division before joining North Riding in January 2014.

Earlier this year, her famous number 13 shirt was hung in the USA’s volleyball hall of fame.

McClure had just started coaching in America when she came on holiday to Whitby and discovered the “beauty of the area” and volleyball being played on the beach.

After falling in love with the town and its local volleyball club, she agreed to return in a player-coach role, initially for one year, which was later extended to a two-year stay.

Along with club captain Heather Reid, McClure was the only other adult player in the Eagles’ squad when they won promotion from National League Division Three in 2014/15.

This season, she has helped North Riding mount a serious bid for promotion from Division Two.

“The first time I met the Eagles girls, I knew they were something special,” McClure said.

“I knew this was a team I would want to be a part of and I’ve watched them grow from good to great.

“Getting promoted [last season] has been the highlight of my time here so far, along with getting to know these amazing Whitby girls who I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life.”