Craig Nicholson replaced Clint Myers as softball coach at Central Arizona College and now is doing the same at Arizona State.
Nicholson will be announced Sunday as the fourth to head a softball program that under Myers won Women’s College World Series titles in 2008 and 2011. The hire is pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.
Myers left after eight seasons and seven WCWS appearances for family reasons to become softball coach at Auburn.
Nicholson won four national junior college titles at Central Arizona before moving to Ball State, where he was hired by then athletic director Tom Collins. Collins now is back at ASU working with the Sun Angel Foundation.
“This is the job you dream about,” Nicholson, 41, said. “This is a destination job for me. I want to be there as long as they want me.”
At Ball State, Nicholson was 204-145 in seven seasons with three Mid-American Conference regular season titles and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010.
At Central Arizona, Nicholson was 723-90 in 11 seasons and three times was named junior college national Coach of the Year.
ASU is coming off a 50-12 season and was seventh at the WCWS. The team returns all of its top players except second baseman Sam Parlich.
Myers was 427-102 at ASU. His predecessors were Linda Wells, 561-415 in 16 years and Mary Littlewood, 493-220 in 19 years.
ASU Vice President for Athletics Steve Patterson said, “When you talk to all the people that are in this industry, the name that kept popping up for a young, up-and-coming coach was Craig. We liked what we saw, he’s got some history here (in Arizona) and wanted to be here. You put the pieces together and he becomes an attractive hire.”
Like recently hired coaches Todd Graham (football) and Tim Mickelson (men’s golf), Nicholson is viewed as a quality recruiter with strong communication skills. “If you’re going to build successful sports programs, you’ve got to have guys that get the drill, who want to be here long term and want to be part of the community,” Patterson said.
Nicholson will be out recruiting starting Monday. His staff possibly could include a current assistant.
“It’s always great to have that veteran (player) leadership, Nicholson said. “I’m going to need to lean on our upperclassmen to help me a little bit. I want to make sure the lines of communication open to good feedback from who players have had great success.
“For me, no outside pressure will be more than pressure I’m going to put on myself to succeed. You embrace the fact we’ve been successful. It’s better than the opposite.” When Nicholson started at Ball State, the program was on NCAA probation and had a small roster.
June 30, 2013
TEMPE, Ariz. – Steve Patterson, Vice President for University Athletics and Dawn Rogers, a Senior Associate AD and Senior Women’s Administrator announced the hiring of Craig Nicholson, pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents, as the new softball head coach, just the fourth in program history.
“We launched this search with several priorities, including hiring someone with head coaching experience, an individual who could recruit elite softball student-athletes and a coach with integrity and a proven track record in graduating student-athletes,” says Steve Patterson, ASU Vice President for Athletics. “We wanted a coach that shared the same vision for ASU softball that our loyal fans and Sun Devil alumni have come to expect at Farrington Stadium.”
“As we conducted our search, it became clear that Craig Nicholson was the perfect fit for ASU. His name kept surfacing as a young, up-and-coming coach. He was a proven winner right here in Arizona and then went on to Ball State to build a consistent championship program. As we visited about our position, Craig’s passion and enthusiasm for Arizona State was contagious. He is someone who wants to be here long-term and become a part of our community. We are thrilled to have him join the Sun Devil Athletics family and lead our national champion softball program.”
Nicholson, the head coach at Ball State for the past seven seasons, amassed a 241-162 record with the Cardinals and holds a 964-252 career record. Nicholson replaces Clint Myers, who accepted a similar position at Auburn on June 14. On top of coaching at Ball State, Nicholson was the associate head coach for the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) in 2008 and helped the team to a NPF title.
“When we began our coaching search several weeks, ago, our first priority was to hire the best coach for our current student-athletes as well as future Devils,” says Dawn Rogers, ASU’s Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Women’s Administrator. “I had the opportunity to talk with countless head coaches about our position. I so appreciated the willingness of championship coaches in softball to share their views on candidates from across the country. I was humbled by the respect for Arizona State softball that the national softball community shares. And as we progressed in the search, it became evident Craig Nicholson was the perfect fit for our program. I especially appreciated his passion to be our next Head Coach; that stood out in our conversations. He is a teacher, a consummate professional and has the drive and confidence to bring another national championship home to ASU.”