Monday, May 21, 2018

Just Another Mundane Monday

Many times I desire to write a blog, yet find myself with a slew of sporadic thoughts and zero direction. Then I put my headphones in. I board a plane. The sun starts to set. And Taylor Swift’s sweet melodies come rattling through my headphones. I listen to her every time I write. Old Taylor. Three songs into her Red album and I find myself moving mountains, with the ebbs and flows of every paragraph seamlessly transitioning into the next.

My mom’s a lot like me. Or perhaps, the inevitable inverse... I’m a lot like my mom. Back in high school, Katy Perry was our girl. When ‘Firework’ came out my mother made me promise to play it at her funeral. I know my father would never approve of this, but knowing my mother she’d out-live my father just so he wouldn’t get the chance to.

My mom sang the song “I Can Only Imagine” at her own mother’s funeral. I was really young, but I remember it vividly. It was beautiful. When the movie came out this spring I really wanted to see it. Normally, I’m very skeptical of Christian movies. Frankly, they’re way too cheesy for my liking. But this one was different. It reminded me of my grandma, my mom, and the extraordinary power music has on each and every one of us.

It got me thinking.

I remember earlier this year when I’d travel to New York for a couple of Luke’s games. The family would be jam packed into the Camry and Gloria Gaynor would be bolting out how she’d survive and all of a sudden the whole family would too. Songs from the Wicked soundtrack would come on shuffle next and we wouldn't let those go unsung either.

 I got the best of both my parents.

Kind of.

I'm tall like my father and I dance like my mother.

I’m a performer. I’m secretly convinced I’m an amazing hip-hop dancer in the mirror, but my father would definitely tell you otherwise, especially after I break out the chicken neck.

Despite my best efforts to stay in rhythm, turns out my father wasn't the only one who thought I couldn't dance. Or act. Or perform.

There are two life-altering things in life I didn’t get into:
1.)   Stanford.
2.)   Cinder-ella.

Cinder-ella was a modern take on the show Cinderella that my high school theatre department put on. It was a dancical. I so badly wanted to be Cinderella, but I knew myself. I knew my talents. I decided to try out for the part of the wicked step-mother, Estella. Not the star, but a fundamental piece of the play, nonetheless.

When the cast was set, and the list of names was stapled to the bulletin board, I walked over prepared as ever for my wildest dream to come true.

After a finger-by-finger, name-by-name stare down, my heart sank.

Oh, my name was on the paper all right.

“STAGE HAND: Nicole Kornet”

I wore all black.

And my one job was to move a window.

But boy, let me tell you—

I moved that window.

With the biggest smile on my face.

I stood on the stage and felt the audience’s energy before me.

It was high school theatre, so the lights weren’t completely off in between scenes like how they are on Broadway. It was still fairly lit so the clumsy, not-so-sure footed high-schoolers wouldn’t break things on set.

I remember walking out, humongous smile and all, grabbing that window and looking through the panes. I saw my friends and my friends saw me.

They got out of their seats and started clapping.

I put that window on its correct duct taped “X” and waved back like I was in the Miss America Pageant. More roars of snaps, claps, whistles and “Ow! Ow!’s” echoed throughout the cafegymatorium. 

I felt like the Disney Princess herself.

I may have only moved a window, the song “I Can Only Imagine” may have moved the world, but that’s what performance does to me. It drives me. It inspires me. Inspiration stirs up hope. It stirs up that little mustard seed inside of you that says, “You can.” You can be that famous musician. You can be that pro athlete. You can be whoever you want to be.


After piling 7 rusty propane tanks onto a bell cart, locking myself out on the terrace once again with a cut on my foreman that screamed tetanus shot, I thought to myself,

“Is this really what my life has come to?”

But then I saw my pumped biceps from placing all 7 tanks into their designated heat lamp, I caught a glimpse of the beautiful ocean lingering in the distance, I felt the sun on my shoulders, and I gracefully changed all 7 propane tanks without anyone’s help. (I used to need a lot of help.)

So yeah, my life had come to this, and I was proud of it.

A year later, and I’m a UCLA graduate still cocktail waitressing at the Marriott.

I was supposed to be on ESPN by now.

Isn’t it funny how we all think we’re going to do what no one else has ever done before?

“I’m going to have the coolest job, live in the biggest house, and everyone will know me-- by 22.”

“I’m going to skip all of those rudimentary steps that everyone else takes because I am DIFFERENT.”

Isn’t it funny? I think it’s funny.

Alberto just celebrated his 18th year working as a server at the Marriott. He’s 42. And he’s been providing for his 3 children for 18 years now.

He never comes in without a smile. He never panics when fifteen tables are full, we’re out of high-ball glasses, and our bartender is swamped at the bar.

He simply puts his hand on my shoulder and smiles.

He makes me want to work hard for him.

He makes me feel like what I’m doing is important.

He makes me realize it’s not about the title of the position at all.

It’s about your mindset.

Immediately I put myself in that high school window-moving Nicole Kornet frame of mind:

“Sure, all I’m doing is moving a window. Or maybe that’s just what YOU think I’m doing. I see the stage. I see the audience. I see opportunity.”

Gone are the days when scholarship checks provide for your every expense, the opportunities to dream never quiet, and your biceps had more definition.


I remember when my aunt came to visit when I was in middle school. She’s the youngest of my mom's siblings and was in college back then. She took my room and I was booted to the couch, aka mom’s bed, and dad was booted to the couch. I ran up to my room one morning and my Aunt Tiff’s college books were scattered all over my bed with highlighters lighting up the pages. Notes were squiggled in between the margins, the words were tiny, and there weren’t any pictures like my social studies books had inside. I read a sentence and although I knew how to pronounce each word, I had no idea what each word meant once put together.

I thought to my sixth grade self, “I’m screwed.”

"If you could do college, then after college you must be 20 and brilliant," I thought to myself.

Being 24 and not brilliant, I now know that sixth grade Nicole hasn’t really changed all that much.

She just showers more.

After college, you go back to square one. You have to get through the boring, ordinary, mundane jobs that everyone else has to, too.

It’s like I’ve forgotten about the hours upon hours of shooting in the driveway. The laps around the neighborhood with my stopwatch. The life-long practice it took to become a professional.

It never ends.

Just because college ends, doesn’t mean practice does, too.

You can’t grow weary of the ordinary. The normal. The mundane.

Because those who don’t grow weary make it to the top. They become known. They change lives. It takes rudimentary jobs done in an extraordinary way, extra hours added to a long workweek, and a mindset that never wavers from the person he or she wants to become.

It’s not what you’re doing now that matters. It’s how you’re doing it.

As much as Luke hates my obnoxious social media prowess, I do it because seeing 10-year-old him inspires 24-year-old me, and hopefully an inspired me can inspire you.

 Because if not, we can only imagine.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ignore the Noise

I’ve never really liked country music.

Partly because my dad calls it noise, and partly because my mom is too gung-ho on Rick Springfield to appreciate a genre without innumerable key changes.

I vividly remember driving down I-35 South in rural Oklahoma. Every single station on the radio was country. Forced to keep it on because I can’t stand the quiet, there, in my Ford Focus, for the first time, I heard the sweet, sultry voice of Keith Urban.

And everything changed.

Last week I was in Nashville. It was a Sunday like any other Sunday. The Kornets were all together, the Kornets went to church, and the Kornets were late.

It was probably John's fault.

As soon as we tiptoed our way through the back doors and the whole congregation was aware of it, I looked up, and realized we weren’t the only ones who were late.

It was Nicole Kidman. Nicole and her two little girls came walking towards us and nestled into the pew directly in front of me.

I know I was supposed to be paying attention, and I usually do (I promise), but I couldn’t help but study her every move.

Five minutes later Nicole’s husband, Keith Urban, walked in.

My heart stopped. I didn’t mean for it to. I was listening to the priest I swear.

But those blow-dried, silky smooth, fluffy golden locks seemed to flutter with his every step.

“Wow, he must balayage” John whispered under his breath.

There wasn’t enough room in the pew for the whole family to fit. As Keith looked around for an open seat I almost jumped in the air and lassoed him towards me.

Unfortunately, a woman’s diaper bag lay propped up on the seat besides me, and Keith was forced to look elsewhere. There went my chance of holding his hand during the Our Father.

I tell you all about my infatuation with Keith & Nicole for a reason—

I’m struggling.

I’m struggling with the obsession for fame.

My whole life I’ve always been the best.

I got an unassisted triple play in tee-ball.

I scored 20 in an 8th grade girls’ basketball game, when I was in fifth grade.

I never lost a game in basketball, volleyball, or softball all three years of middle school.

Sure, everyone can appear humble. But on the inside, I knew I was good. And I never wanted anyone to be better. That’s why I shot for hours on end in the driveway. That's why I set up makeshift cones in the street and ran suicides every night after school. That's why I was always the last one to come inside because I wouldn't go inside before my brothers. I wasn't going to lose. I wanted to be the best in the world.

Which is why right now, at 24, I’m struggling.

Without sports, what can I do well?

Without throwing a football, fielding a grounder, splashing a triple, what am I good for?

What can I wow others with?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. It has eaten me up on the inside.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written my last personal blog. Initially I wrote one all about Luke. All about his first game. It was one of the best days. But after the buzz wore off, after the reality of it all set, after he fit in— it hit me.

I’m jealous.

I’m not jealous of him being in the NBA.

And I’m not jealous of his success.

I’m jealous of the noise.

I have always thought I was going to be the next NBA player in the family.

Yes, I’m a girl and yes, I was 12, but without a doubt in my mind I was going to be the next Calvin Cambridge.

Everyone was going to talk about me. They always have. So why would it stop?

My little brother got good. That’s why.

Despite the debate, men who play basketball are always going to get a liiiiiiiittle more attention than women who play basketball.

Basketball has always been my vehicle. My gateway to success. Without it I feel inadequate. Like everything else I do will never be as good as the athlete I once was. And the worst part is... I don't even miss playing.

Sure, I love the game, but what I really wanted was the fame.

Ever since I was a little girl I grew up idolizing those who embraced the spotlight. Allen Iverson and Barry Bonds were my favorite athletes for Pete’s sake. What 8-year-old girl forces their mother to take her to Kinko’s so she could laminate Barry’s articles after he broke the home run record with 756?

This girl.


Media lovin,’ multi-sport athlete, attention-seeking Coley.

All my life I’ve wanted to be famous. I’ve imagined my face on that big billboard in Times Square since I was 7. And there Luke is, in New York of all places, playing for the New York Knicks. Luke is living the life that I have always dreamed of for myself.

And he doesn’t even want it.

He just wants to play the game.

He plays because he loves basketball with all of his heart.

And I can’t say the same.

I think that's what's hardest for me.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it. I like playing. But I love performing. I love putting on a show. Sometimes I feel like that’s what I’ve always done. God gave me the talent to play sports. So, in order to put on a show like my favorite Broadway stars do, I must play basketball the only way I know how— like a performer.

Luke, on the other hand, does not play that way. He plays the same way he does his physics homework.

He uses his IQ. Then attacks. No fun and games. Maybe an occasional smile, because he loves to play, but not because the camera's on him and he wants to give the crowd a little somethin somethin (like his sister used to do).

My goal is still to one day be plastered amongst the billboards of Times Square, whether it be through modeling, commercial work, or color commentating, because that’s where my true love lies. It’s who I am; it's what makes me happy.

But most importantly, I can't let jealously creep in.

All my life I've envisioned this picture perfect lifestyle for myself. I was going to be a famous athlete, marry a NFL quarterback, and live in a mansion in Los Angeles, California.

The funny thing is— God’s kinda done that, but better.

He has given me what I truly wanted.

I’m at UCLA, I’m broadcasting, and I’m dating the best man in the world.

Meet Sean.

Guys, I met him at church.

Left side.

Across the aisle.

Fifth pew from the front.


Blonde hair.

Blue eyes.


(And a quarterback).

Now tell me that isn’t God-ordained.

He may not be an NFL quarterback, my first name may not be Gisele, he may not have 50,000 followers, I might just always be "the sister of a NBA player," and that's okay.

Luke will always have his thing, and I will always have mine. That's how it's always been. As similar as we are, in some ways we couldn't be more different.

I've always wanted to be the Keith Urban, and he doesn't give two toots about that. But once I start comparing myself to others, doubting my own abilities, and allowing jealousy to overtake me I need remember the Cardinal sin:

Comparison is the thief of all joy.

The public's perception of you will always fluctuate, which is why sometimes I can feel myself fluctuating with it. It's not about who you know, who you date, or what you do.

Yeah, I like famous people, I struggle because I'm human, but I want to make a difference, and I believe one day I will.

However, right now I have a ways to go. I have some growing up to do.

So, in the meantime, model yourselves after the Luke Kornets, the Sean McKaveneys, and the humble hearts who want to serve, rather than be served.

I know I will.

Proverbs 22: 
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life.
The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.
One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Doesn’t matter how hard one tries to bend it, the bad boy drives off into the sunset with the girl and the nice guy smiles and waves, dreaming about the day when she wakes up and finds that what she’s looking for has been there the whole time.

My mom got an email the other day that she forwarded me.

It was about Luke.

Being a recently graduated student-athlete, I’m very familiar with the temptations that swallow people whole, the temporary pleasures that become the downfall of relationships, and the obsession with self-image that manipulates the soul.

People are so lost in today’s day and age.

And someone needs to shake them.

It’s time to stop sugarcoating things. It’s time to stop acquiescing to the pressures of the outside world.

It’s time to take off the blinders.

I am very strong in my faith. It’s the driving force to every decision I make. It doesn’t mean every decision I make is correct. I’m human, and we all screw up.

But being human doesn’t make certain things acceptable. Being human doesn’t mean we can make whatever decisions we want as a hormonal young adult, just to later ask for forgiveness when the time is right for us.

It’s not about you. Life on earth is not about you.

At Oklahoma and at UCLA I was blessed with a tight knit group of Christian friends.

In Oklahoma I specifically remember a mom coming up to one of my friends and me at lunch. She told us how much it meant to her to see a couple of athletes praying before their meal.

As small as it might seem to us, an Oklahoma football player and a women’s basketball player praying together before they dove into their Fazoli’s Fettuccini Alfredo touched a mother, father, and their 3 little boys.

Nothing flashy. Nothing to attract attention. Just blessing some food. It’s what we always did.

There is no greater opportunity to show people who you are than in college. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete. It doesn’t matter who you are. We are all made equal in God's image.

But people in the spotlight have a target on their backs. They are watched by many more eyes. They are faces of programs. They are idols of young and of old. They are swimming in pressure.


Who cares?

Who cares if you are the President of the United States, or the janitor at East High?

Remember your purpose.

It's not impossible.

I think about my family.

I think about my mom.

She’s one of the most humble women I know. She got into Vanderbilt the hard way (no offense dad & Luke), she has made countless sacrifices for our family, she has given my brothers and I a childhood that we will never forget, and she’s just flat-out pretty.

But my favorite part?

She loves the Lord with all of her heart.

Beth Moore workbooks are scattered throughout the house. She’s always leading some sort of Bible study. You wouldn’t know because she would never tell you, unless she’s inviting you, but one would know through the interactions one has with her.

She lights up a room. God is living through that woman.

Jesus drank wine, too.

I think about my dad.

He loves through action.

He selflessly raised all three of us kids after his professional basketball career, humbly taking on the role of Mr. Mom.

He taught me obedience, discipline, and how to shoot the 3 ball.

But my favorite part about dad?

He is one of the most devout men I know. He’s whom I pray to God about every night. Laying overwhelmed with gratitude, I can't help but thank Him for a father who raised me in the Catholic Church.

I think about John.

He texts Luke & I all the time in the sibling group chat-- constantly inundating us with stories, articles, or religious readings that he thinks would help us.

He’s an incredible older brother. He’s always learning, always wanting to grow in his faith and in our relationships with each other.

I think about Luke.

He loves wholeheartedly and with grace. He has that child-like faith that would never do anything malicious to hurt another soul. All he ever wants to do is help.

He knows why he was put here on this earth. He knows it’s his duty to serve. It doesn’t matter if you’re where you want to be or not. If you’re living by giving, chances are you’ll find joy in every opportunity that comes your way.

Following the rules may not look as appealing in the media, on Instagram, or at your high school prom, but I’m telling you—pleasure is temporary.

Don’t fall into the trap. Trust your gut. Know that there’s something else out there, someone else out there who has your back.

So don’t turn your back on Him.

Don’t give up.

There are others who are waiting til marriage, who go to church every Sunday, who say their bedtime prayers.

It’s so fun, guys. It’s fun living for a purpose. I can’t imagine living my life without one. I feel loved every day, I never feel alone, I see joy in every opportunity, and I know there’s more life after this one.

God gave us eyes to see.

Look around you.

Nice guys don’t finish last.

Nice guys finish first.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Real World

I still work at the Marriott.

I might give off the vibe that I'm busting my tail and moving up the ranks in my new UCLA gig, but I spend most of my hours busing tables, tending to the drunk, and falling on my face.

At 11pm the kitchen closes. In typical Kornet fashion, a table for two walked in right at 10:55pm.

I quickly placed their order for 3 plates of fish tacos and 3 plates of shishito peppers. They were hungry.

Our food runner takes off at 11pm too, so it was my job to run down to the kitchen and bring the food up.

I totally forgot.

30 minutes had passed, and I started questioning whether or not the chefs were out on the pier catching the fish themselves.

Trying my best to curb the appetites of two hangry men, I never let their gin & tonics go dropless.

Saved by the bell, the phone rang.

It was Chef.

He was not a happy camper. The tacos had been under the warmer for some time.

And Nicole, the food runner, was nowhere to be found.

I sprinted down the stairs and saw the food sitting there. After a few exchanges of unfriendly glares from Chef 1 and Chef 2, I apologized and grabbed the piping hot plates. I could feel the third degree burns bubbling my skin. Chef 1 and Chef 2 weren't about to help me find a tray either. By the time I turned around to ask for one, they were already out the door.

Time was of the essence. Two men full of testosterone were upstairs waiting on me.

I clinched the plates, peeled the corner, then bit it.

The floors were wet and my rubbery-soled Vans weren't up for the challenge. The chefs had just mopped and the lights were dim. It was 11pm and everyone was gone.

I landed straight on my elbow. I thought I shattered it. I pride myself on never breaking a bone, and there I was, laying on a wet, kitchen floor with a plate full of piping hot fish tacos, broken glass, and newfound sprinkles of fresh blood staining what had been my 23-year break-free bone streak.

(I didn't shatter it. Boo-yah.)

I somehow managed to salvage 2 out of 3 fish taco plates mid-fall. I dusted off the slaw, wiped my tears, and brought the remains to the table of two on the patio.

Now I know what you're thinking...

"Why are you sitting here wasting your time writing this blog when you can be in court filing a lawsuit worth millions???"

There was a wet floor sign.

I was just too concentrated on my boiling flesh that was frying from fish at the time to see it.

There was a "caution hot plate" sign for that too.

I don't say all of this for your pity, because if I were to do that I would have mentioned the fact that I got pulled over on my way to pick up a paycheck from UCLA earlier that morning.

Apparently I crossed a double yellow line while turning left and the cop decided to dish out a $400 ticket for "driving on the wrong side of the road."

When it rains, it pours.

Daniel Powder put it best, I had a bad day.

Being an ex-student-athlete, at that moment, as I laid there on the cold, dark, dank Marriott kitchen floor, it hit me.

Real-life is hard.


I don't want to be a waitress forever. In fact, I never wanted to be one to begin with.

But it's through this job that I've seemed to learn the most.

One of my coworkers was recently fired. He is a father, a husband, and the sole provider for his family.

Another one of my coworkers was carrying a glass water jug to refill for the guests. As he was carrying it over to the sink it slipped and sliced his hand open. He can't feel several of his fingers now because he didn't get to the ER on time. The ER, where he had to pay out of pocket, because he doesn't have insurance.

I've learned so much amongst my peers here in Southern California. I love these guys. I've never seen a group of such diligent, hard workers, and I had been a student-athlete at one of the most prestigious schools in the world.

I don't plan on staying long at the Marriott. In fact, with season starting up, my hours will now be going the other way, and UCLA is where most of my time will reside.

But I won't ever forget what I learned being at Le Merigot on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California.

Be proud of where you came from. Be proud of who you are. Who cares if you're a waitress? Who cares if you're still trying to figure it all out?

If you're 43, or 23.

As long as you have health insurance........

The real-world is hard. I get it now. I no longer get the perks of being a student-athlete, but despite the world being hard, it doesn't mean I should be ashamed.

Not everything is as it seems.

People struggle. And as cliché as it sounds, there is so much beauty in the struggle. So much growth in the struggle.

People relate to struggle. We all do.

Real-life and real people resonate.

Even your favorite, superhuman NBA idols struggle. Once you truly get to know a person, a group, a team, or an organization everything becomes much more relatable.


I remember seventh grade.

I had the biggest crush in the world on John-Paul Malham.

But John-Paul Malham had the biggest crush in the world on Madison Austin.

In seventh grade he kissed her after school. I was crushed. Devastated. Destroyed.

I looked like this in seventh grade.

Madison Austin looked like this.

Fifteen years later, and that little Coley hasn't changed a bit. I've always been such a tomboy. Always have and always will be. I prefer throwing bombs to the boys at recess instead of ooo'ing and ahh'ing at those who do.

My mom deserves so much of the credit.

Not for the athletic ability per se, but for the confidence she instilled in me.

Don't get me wrong, my father taught me the hog-nasty basketball confidence, but my mom taught me how to be confident in who I am as a person.

She told me it was okay to wear the boy's t-shirt from Old Navy with the dogs on the front.

She told me it was okay to want do-rags for Christmas so I can look like Allen Iverson.

She told me it was okay to be who I am.

I have permission to be imperfect.


I'm a fairly shallow person. Well, here's the thing-- I'm obsessed with pretty people. I stumble into these beautiful LA mothers and their just as naturally beautiful children and I crave the same for myself one day.

But my mom didn't care. She never let me feel like I wasn't pretty enough. She loved me for who I was. And she told me I was beautiful the way I was every single day.

Kids go in and out of phases, and my mom knew that. She knew that one day I'd want to go to homecoming and pick out a dress. She knew that one day I'd want to take a shower. She knew that one day I'd grow up.

Yeah, I did want to look like Madison Austin. I did want to be the one that everyone fawned over, but there's nothing more satisfying than being who you are, owning it, living it, accepting it, and being proud of it.

I work at the Marriott. I have pimples. And I love who I am.