Women’s Basketball staff expands for new season

Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics.

Women’s Basketball head coach Beth O’Boyle kept busy this summer expanding her coaching staff for the 2018-2019 season. Her additions and promotions have painted a fresh start for the upcoming season.


Nerlande Nicholas, who spent last season as an assistant coach, has acquired the title of recruiting coordinator. Richmond native Ka’lia Johnson is the new video coordinator and Erica Snow will join as a graduate assistant. Division 1 coaching veteran Terry Zeh is now an assistant coach and Mia Nickson is the new director of basketball operations.


What does the job Recruiting Coordinator entail for you?


Nerlande Nicolas: Really making sure that we start building really good relationships, especially locally with some of the programs here in Virginia and recruiting athletes that are going to help us on the court, but also be good students, be good citizens in the community. Recruit players that play under coach O’Boyle’s style and system. And just recruiting an overall well-developed young lady that will promote our program, represent us well locally and nationally, and help us compete at the highest level.


When do you start the recruiting process?


NN: It never ends. There’s just different levels of recruiting and different tasks that you have as an assistant versus a recruiting coordinator. Everyone has their specific areas that they recruit from, but there can be crossover. But also, I guess starting the recruiting coordinator position, that entailed a little bit more organization in terms of tracking everyone’s players as opposed to the players from your area. And making sure that all of the recruits in your system are up-to-date and things are just running like a well-oiled machine.


What do you find is the biggest change between going from assistant coach to recruiting  coordinator?


NN: For me, recruiting is something that I think I like the most about being an assistant and coaching. There wasn’t a huge change in terms of passion and what I’m doing. For me, it’s more of getting organized and making sure that I’m a lot more aware of everyone’s kids, and not just the kids from my area. That I know more about the recruiting pool, nationally and internationally. That I know more kids, that I’m just increasing my knowledge of the players out there, and the programs out there and the coaches out there. So for me, it’s just knowing more and researching more and working more in that regard. But the passion and the work and the connections, that to me doesn’t really change.


What are you looking forward to the most for this upcoming season?


NN: Winning games, having fun. Coaching our young athletes, continuing to develop them. Making sure that they’re continuing to develop off the court as well. Just teaching them great values and upholding our culture.


What was the process for hiring all these new people with the staff?


Beth O’Boyle: So one of the things that you see quite a bit in people’s coaching careers is that they stay, they help build, they’re part of a university, part of a program. And then what’s the next step for them with their career? So I’m very excited for coach (Karen) Blair and Jessica (Imhof) to have great opportunities at Maryland and Princeton. So now it’s onto, “Okay, who can help VCU? And who can be great additions to our programs here?” So it was great to bring in Ka’lia as our new video coordinator. She had a great career at Duke and she’s from Richmond, so it’s fun to bring her back home. So then Mia came in, she was an outstanding player at Penn State. She has an incredible work ethic and it’s great to have those guys onboard and really working with our team.


Do you find that the staff and the team are merging together well?


BO: Yeah, one of the things that is different about women’s basketball than some of the other sports is that we’re here all summer. The NCAA allows you to have eight weeks of practice. So our players got a lot of time with our staff and our new staff. And that really makes a big difference.


Then you were named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors. What will that entail for you?


BO: Yeah, it’s exciting. The WBCA really does a lot with all of the divisions of women’s coaches across the country. From professional development to managing and really trying to be a voice for women’s basketball coaches with the NCAA and our student athletes. And really get to be on the insides of promoting women’s basketball throughout the country.


Is there anything that you’re hoping the new staff will be able to get most out of this season?


BO: Yeah, I think one of the things that is really important for us is the theme of us getting better every day. We had such a young team last year. And they’ve got a ton of experience (now). And now this year they’re a year older. Our player development and seeing them grow on the floor is one of the biggest things for us.


What are you looking forward to the most?


BO: I think actually it’s probably seeing that jump. When you come in as a freshman, your head is spinning. You’re here away from home, you don’t have mom and dad necessarily there to walk you to class and make sure you’re doing all your things. And now you’re finding out who you are without some of those safety nets. So that first year really sometimes can be overwhelming. And then you add in the pace and the pressures that come with playing your first year. And now you’ve gone through that, you’ve learned that. And now we get to take the next step. And I think watching our players grow after having that experience under their belt is probably the most exciting piece for me to see.

Jessica Wetzler Sports Editor




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