Phil Nickel announced as new volleyball coach

Eastfield volleyball coach Phil Nickel speaks with the team after practice in the gymnasium on September 6.

RORY MOORE/THE ET CETERA

Eastfield volleyball coach Phil Nickel speaks with the team after practice in the gymnasium on September 6.

MOIRA MCINTEE, Managing Editor

Phil Nickel was announced as Eastfield’s new head coach for women’s volleyball on Tuesday. He is stepping into the role after former head coach, Brandon Crisp, accepted a position with Lamar University over the summer.

The Harvester Bees started their season without a full-time coach. With only one day of coaching the team under Nickel’s belt, the team will play in a pair of matches against Southwestern Christian College on Wednesday.

“Today was the first day coaching and it was great,” Nickel said. “They were super receptive, had a lot of energy and were excited, which makes me really happy and excited.”

No longer worried about going through more coaching transitions this season, the players say they are looking forward to working with one head coach full-time.

Phil Nickel was hired as the new head coach of the Eastfield Harvester Bees volleyball team. (RORY MOORE/THE ET CETERA)

“I think it’s going to be a big change, but I think that it will be for the better,” sophomore outside hitter Kailey O’Neal said. “We’ve gone through, like, four coaches already and we’re about to start conference. He really seems like an awesome coach.”

Nickel comes to Eastfield with 26 years of experience. Working most recently for Drive Nation Sports as a coach and recruiting director, he also worked for the seven years prior in club volleyball.

From 2008-2014 he was the head volleyball coach for Wayne State University and led the program to a 94-78 record and five straight trips to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. During his tenure he coached 31 GLIAC all-academic honorees, tutored one GLIAC libero of the year, and two American Volleyball Coaches Association honorable mention all-Americans.

“I think a lot of the colleges that we’re going to play in conference are kind of expecting a different outcome this year because coach Brandon [Crisp] won’t be here this year,” sophomore outside hitter Bailey Newsom said. “But I think with the coach that just came in, it’s going to be even better than what we had in the past. So, I’m excited.”

Before his time at Wayne State University, Nickel was an assistant volleyball coach at the University of Houston from 2002-2008, as well as Illinois State University from 2000-2002 and Wright State University 1998-2000.

Before coaching in the NCAA Division I level, he was the head volleyball coach at Thomas More College for two years and led the team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1997.

Coming to Eastfield after the season has started could be a challenge, but Nickel is optimistic about where the team is headed.

“We can’t control the fact that I wasn’t here or that they didn’t have a true head coach for the first four matches,” he said. “We can’t worry about that. We just have to control the things we can control, and we’re moving forward.”