The Auburn volleyball team has had one of its best starts in program history this season, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Talent lies in every position and in every grade classification. The team trusts everyone to execute. However, the team trusts one person to lead them. Head coach Rick Nold has one of the most crucial components of being a successful coach: complete respect from his players.
“He is so inspirational. We can always trust what he has to say,” Junior Brenna McIlroy said. “If he’s telling to do something on the court, I know 100 percent that’s the right thing to do.”
The 2017 season is Nold’s seventh season on The Plains. On Nov. 9 against Clemson, he won his 100th game as Auburn's head coach, becoming only the third coach in the program’s history to reach such an achievement.
This milestone is an addition to an already impressive resume. Nold began his coaching career as an assistant at Assumption High School in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, helping the team to three state championships and a 137-9 overall record. He also was a part of the University of Louisville’s staff 1996, and an intern with USA volleyball, assisting in preparation for the 1996 Olympic games.
Nold’s coaching ability was brought into the spotlight when he took the head coaching job at Jacksonville State University. As a nine-year-old team, Nold completely revamped the Gamecocks program.
He won three regular season conference titles, three conference tournament titles and three appearances to the NCAA postseason tournament. As a three-time conference Coach of the Year, Nold had an overall record of 172-98.
Now at Auburn, Nold has established a mentality in his Tigers to be strong and determined.
“We are always want to be the aggressor,” Nold said. “We want to always take it to the other team.”
Every year, the team seems to look stronger and, most importantly, unified. He has coached players that have broken Auburn records and been awarded All-SEC, SEC All-Freshman honors and SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
Nold has seen tremendous success in recruiting and developing, building teams with players that work well together. This season is on pace to be one of his best on The Plains. Auburn is 11-4 overall (4-2 SEC) and has already notched a win against a then-nationally ranked squad in North Carolina.
As the games go on, Nold is always seen standing next to the nets, completely engaged in every second of play. He shares laughs and cheers with the players after well-executed plays and instructs the team to correct movements and team structure when mistakes are made.
There are little things Nold does that bind the team together. For Nold, having a positive relationship with his players is important.
“They come and help us grow as much as we’ve helped them,” Nold said. “You just want to make sure that you’re supporting them in any way you can, and get a lot of wins while you’re at it.”
Nold is a proven coach, but he’s heralded as an even better mentor by his players.
“(Nold) is the best coach I’ve ever played for,” Senior Alexa Filley said. “He’s there for us on the court and off the court. I know I can trust him with anything. He really built me, not only as a player but as a person. He’s that person that if I have a problem, if I’m upset, or if I’m stressed, I can always come to him. He’s almost like a second dad to me and to all the other players.”
Nold has been the centerpiece for Auburn volleyball's success, and the 10th coach in program history attributes his passion for the game to his surroundings.
“It’s been a great time," Nold said. "I love it here and love the people. We’ve had some great kids that have come through here and really good ones coming in the future.”