Meet Rising Jiu-Jitsu Star “Gucci Exclusive”

She’s a World, Pan, and Fight To Win Pro champion. She’s started this year off on a tear, winning the Europeans with five  submissions, then going on to quadruple gold at the San Jose Open the following weekend – this at 17, in her first year competing as an adult. [See her San Jose highlight here]. She already graduated from high school, earned an associate’s degree in the process, and is now looking ahead to Stanford Law School. Unstoppable doesn’t begin to describe this girl.

Her aggressive submission-hunting style makes her exciting to watch, but her fun-loving and humble attitude will make you love her. She heard that competing was one of the most selfish things you could do, so she designed a t-shirt with her nickname and donated all of the proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She also makes funny highlight videos for her friends in her down time.

Let’s get to know Caio Terra blue belt and BJJ Tees sponsored athlete, Nicole Evangelista.

BJJ Tees: How long have you been training/ What got you into jiu-jitsu?

Nicole: This September will be nine years! I started training at nine years old because my dad wanted me to learn self defense, and I ended up loving it.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

Surviving Caio’s Nogi Worlds camp! I would say my biggest accomplishment within the sport is winning double gold at Pans and Nogi Worlds last year. However, I pride myself more so in my personal development through the sport than any tournaments I’ve won. I’ve also been able to graduate high school with enough college credits for an associate’s degree with high honors and Phi Theta Kappa.

How do you balance being a full-time student and an athlete, and what are some struggles you face in doing so?

Surprisingly academics and training complement each other really well. I don’t study well if I don’t train, and vice-versa. The main two struggles I’ve faced in pursuing success academically and athletically is: dieting during mid-terms or finals week and my peers questioning why I do what I do. The dieting is just sheer willpower for me; because I eat when I’m stressed, and finals week is the epitome of stressful. The peers aspect is more complex. Many of my high school peers would be impressed by my dedication to academics and Jiu Jitsu; however the majority of them would always ask me questions like “Isn’t that really stressful?” or “Why don’t you just skip practice to study more?”  No. It’s not stressful because I love it. So I’m not skipping practice. I’ll just study after.

I also was given the unspoken title of “the weird Jiu Jitsu girl.” Mainly because I would always show up to the high school in sweatpants, messy hair, no makeup, etc… Quite contrasting to my freshman year when I was dressed to the eights every. Single. Day. I recall even going to school in gi pants a couple of times. I’m so stylish! Overall, I think that those two points are minuscule to the overall happiness I’ve obtained by doing both.

You recently graduated from high school with an associate’s degree. What are you doing now? Are you training full-time? Taking any time off?

I took a gap year before I go back to school. For my gap year, I moved to San Jose from Denver to train with Caio Terra full-time. I always wanted to attend Stanford, but I was planning on applying for their graduate program; not their undergraduate. However, I ended up loving California so much I decided to apply to Stanford for my undergraduate. We’ll see. I’m not rejected or accepted yet, so I’m in limbo right now.

How often do you train, and what does an average day look like for you?

I train 24/7 365 days a year. My motto is sleep is for the weak and rage all the time. There are no off days, just pure rage days! That’s a total joke. Not a very good joke, but a joke. I train anywhere from 5-6 hours a day dependent on the day and if I’m lifting or not.  I’ll train usually five days a week, maybe six.

Your nickname is Gucci Exclusive. What does the name mean/ come from?

My “brother” and teammate Mr. Phillip Lietz gave it to me. We were bantering about designer bags or something and his comeback to something I said was “That’s just cause you’re Gucci Exclusive!” From then on it just stuck. He proceeded to call me Gucci Exclusive, Gucci, Guc-Dawg, and Guc-Meister. Now my other “little brother” Roberto has started calling me Guchecha. It’s a world full of Gucci Exclusive (not)!

Who are you inspired by?

My coach Caio Terra. I used to be obsessed with him. I used to scribble “Technique Conquers All” on the cover of my notebook. I was always obsessed with Terra’s fluid Jiu Jitsu, attention to detail, but most importantly his encouragement of school. I always dreamed of moving to California to train with him… and last year I did. I don’t creep on Caio now that I actually know him. I view him as my friend, and not just my idol. But sometimes when I’m talking to him I’ll find myself start to blush randomly; because mentally I realize I am talking to my idol! I’m a weirdo.

What are some of your goals?

1)  I want to win black belt worlds. I also made a commitment to myself, and Caio, that I wouldn’t drink any alcohol until I win Black Belt Worlds.

2)  I want to get accepted into Stanford and graduate from Stanford Law! Pursue a career as a Lawyer.

3) Make enough money to take my mom to Greece and my dad to Africa. As a thank you for dealing with me for almost eighteen years.

You just won the Europeans! What’s next for you?

I guess just mentally preparing for Caio’s Pan Ams and Worlds Camp! And then, you know, actually competing at Pans and Worlds.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of jiu-jitsu?

I love film editing. I make a lot of videos for fun! I made a human trafficking one in eighth grade and won the Colorado Leadership Award for it, but I prefer to make funny videos. I also love reading! I’m a mega book nerd. I read anything from Shakespeare to John Green. I don’t really do any other sports outside Jiu Jitsu, but I’ve tried rock climbing with Phil and want to do that more. Mainly because my grip strength will be equivalent to King Kong’s.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself?

I enjoy long, romantic walks around the mats and making really bad highlight videos. Hit me up if you’re interested.

By Nikki Sullivan

Victory Admin