Nikki is a Long Island native and was raised in West Babylon in Suffolk County, New York.
Lacrosse was a beloved sport in her big, extended family; but mostly concentrated on the men’s side because there wasn’t a program for the girls, yet. Her father’s cousin, Jim McAleavey [owner/operator of MacWear Sports] was a huge influence in the Donohue family’s love for the game.
As a eigth-grade student in JHS, Nikki played for the boy’s lacrosse team to emphasize her desire to play the game of lacrosse and bring a girl’s program to the JHS and HS and town. Through many hours of getting signatures and support she successfully petitioned for a girl’s lacrosse program in the West Babylon schools and won. It is also noteworthy to mention that 2 recent Women’s Tewaaraton award winners came through the West Babylon ladies lacrosse program – Shannon Smith, Northwestern University 2011 and Sam Apuzzo, Boston College 2018.
Nikki became a 4-year varsity letter recipient and paved the way for her college lacrosse career. Nikki was recruited by Head Coach Dennis Short to attend the State University of New York at Albany, where she enjoyed a great 4-year experience and served as Captain for part of that time. After Nikki’s Junior season, Coach Short left UA and relocated to Orlando, FL. In 2006, Nikki graduated with a degree in History. She then got recruited a second time by Coach Short; this time, to begin a girls lacrosse program at Ocoee HS and become a high school History teacher. She enjoyed a fruitful five-year experience at Ocoee where she led a successful program and contributed to a winning record of 48-28.
In 2011, Nikki left Ocoee and brought her skills to West Orange HS where she continued to teach History and became an assistant on the Lady Warrior lacrosse team under the direction of Mary Hopkins. In 2018, Coach Hopkins stepped down and handed-over the reins of this successful program to Nikki and entrusted her to build on the powerful tradition of the Lady Warriors lacrosse program. She has led the team to a successful, winning record at this 2022 time of 54-29. In addition, she has contributed her time and talents to serve as a Florida National Team coach – in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2018, and 2022.
In 2020, Riptide was started under the leadership of Nikki Thorndill and Kathy Keiber. This is a youth program on the west side of Orlando for elementary and middle school. There are currently 50+ girls that are in this fundamental and skills based Regional lacrosse program.