Nikki Hackenberg is an intense, passionate volleyball coach who led teams to many titles on the court in Pennsylvania. She is now taking a time out from coaching to watch her four boys growing up and playing sports.
"Coach Hack" as her players still call her, has certainly been put to the test watching her oldest son, Christian at the starting quarterback spot. When he was in high school, she admits there was a learning curve for her and her husband.
It was probably good to get it out of her system because Christian's college career would start out on roller coaster of its own. After committing to the Nittany Lions, the Hackenbergs would learn the fate of Penn State, a four-year bowl ban and the school stripped of scholarships.
"I will never forget, ever forget in my entire life that meeting after the sanctions were released," says Nikki Hackenberg, "when we all drove to State College to meet with Coach O'Brien, it was one of the most emotional times I have been through.
"There were grown ups passionately showing their emotions and the kids grabbing each other and saying 'We are going to do this.' It was a pretty incredible time so for me," says Hackenberg, "that's what I think of every game."
For example, last year against Michigan when all eyes were on her son and his team throughout four overtimes.
"I would step up on the bleachers, step back down, I would pray," says the mother with a smile, "I would sit back up, I would stand back up.. I just didn't know what I would do with myself, it was crazy."
Penn State would be victorious in that game with a 43-40 final score, but then another hurdle, Head Coach Bill O'Brien leaves and James Franklin takes over add to that a slew of key players out with injuries this year and the blue and white are faced with challenges every weekend to get a win.
Nikki Hackenberg watched another Big Ten rivalry match up this time against Ohio State. Penn State went into the contest as a double digit underdog despite a valiant effort, they would love 31 to 24 in double overtime.
"I didn't hear from him till Monday night," says Hackenberg, "and he was like 'Mom, we had them and I was like I know."
So there are times she has to revert back to her coaching ways. She sends supportive and encouraging text messages before each game and knows one day sports might not be in the picture for her four boys including Christian so when she hears comments for her youngest son like…
"We were talking on the way home, " says Hackenberg, "he was like 'Mom, I want to be just like Christian.'"
She will continue to be his biggest fan on or off the field.