Jeff Nickel enters his second season as the Shawnee State Women’s Basketball Head Coach in the 2014-15 season. He served as interim head coach during the 2013-14 season. Nickel takes over the head coaching position looking to continue the tradition of excellence established by NAIA Hall of Fame Coach Robin Hagen-Smith. Hagen-Smith coached the Bears for 30 seasons and amassed 638 NAIA victories, which the most among active coaches at the time of her retirement. Nickel served as an assistant for four seasons under Hagen-Smith.
With Nickel taking the lead during the 2013-14 season, the Bears advanced to their 19th NAIA Tournament in the past 21 seasons. In his NAIA debut, Nickel led Shawnee State to a first round upset of No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist in overtime, guiding the Bears to the NAIA Second Round for the sixth straight season and 15th time overall in program history. To get into position for the NAIA Tournament, Shawnee State won nine straight games from the beginning of February through the MSC Opening Round victory against Lindsey Wilson. Compiling an overall record of 20-13, the Bears racked up four victories ranked in the NAIA top six last season.
Shawnee State was led by a trio of seniors from last year’s squad, headlined by first-team All-American and MSC Player of the Year Alannah Sheets. In addition to Sheets leading the conference in scoring, Diane Abbady and Priscila Santos were also named first-team All-MSC and honorable mention All-America. The 2013-14 season was the first time the Bears had three different players honored as first-team All-Conference picks in program history. Sheets became the 10th first-team All-American in program history. The three players represented as All-American honorees was also the most in program history.
This coming season will be Nickel’s sixth overall at Shawnee State. In addition to four years as an assistant coach, he also served as interim head coach for six games during the 2012-13 season. He compiled a record of 5-1 during that time.
The Bears have experienced great success in Nickel’s four seasons as an assistant coach. In his first year as an assistant coach, SSU advanced to the NAIA Division II championship game in 2009-10. During the 2010-11 season, the Bears moved to the Mid-South Conference and NAIA Division I and went back to the Fab Four in that season. As an assistant, Nickel’s responsibilities included recruiting, scouting, walk through and Individual workouts.
Prior to Shawnee State, Nickel spent one season as head coach of his alma mater at Greenup County High School (Ky.). He went 17-10 in his only season and amassed the best regular season in 11 years at GCHS. He also spent two seasons as the Head Girls' Basketball Coach at Portsmouth High School. While at Portsmouth, he helped develop the Portsmouth Girls Youth Basketball League. Nickel has also spent four seasons as an assistant to KHSAA Ring of Honor Coach Randy Ward at Portsmouth Clay High School. Together they compiled a league championship, three sectional titles and two district finals appearances.
Coach Nickel began his basketball career at Greenup County High School under Coach Randy Ward. While at GCHS he was a member of three 63rd district championships, two 16th Region semifinal teams and one 16th Region runner-up team. He graduated from GCHS in 2000. The following year he started his coaching career at 18 years old at McKell Middle School in South Shore, Kentucky.
Nickel received his bachelor's degree from Shawnee State University in 2005 and holds a Grade 7-12 Integrated Social Studies Teaching license. In 2011, he received his master's degree in Athletic Administration/Coaching from Concordia University-Irvine, California. He resides in South Shore, Kentucky.