Skipjacks’ Nichols named Coach of the Year
Ex-Chesapeake College player guides women’s team to record season
WYE MILLS Damon Nichols, who guided the Chesapeake College women’s basketball team to a seventh-place national finish, has been named the NJCAA Division II Region XX and District K Coach of the Year.
Nichols led the Skipjacks to a 28-4 overall record, including an 8-1 postseason mark. Chesapeake, which was 20-3 in the regular season, swept through the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference and Region XX tournaments on the way to a first-ever national tournament berth.
Nichols hired in 2009 after Chesapeake failed to field a team the previous season led the Skipjacks to a first-round state tournament win in his second season. That resurgence set the stage for this year’s record-breaking campaign, which included a 14-game winning streak.
"A lot of people told me when I took the job it would take three or four years to rebuild the program," said Nichols, who played for college’s men’s basketball team in the 1990s. "I never thought we would be in this position this quickly."
Nichols said good mentors, hard work and talented players all contributed to the success that earned him Coach of the Year accolades.
"I learned a lot from John Mappas and Steve Perry," said Nichols, who was a varsity boys’ basketball assistant coach under Perry at North Caroline High and a men’s basketball assistant coach under Mappas at Chesapeake.
"They call me a gym rat I’m always in somebody’s gym. That’s what you have to do to be successful," said Nichols, who managed to scout a high school all-star game while his team was in Illinois competing at the national tournament.
Nichols saluted the players who put together the 28-win season.
"They bought into my system and I’m just thankful for having them," said Nichols.
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