Discipline. Hard Work. Determination. No matter how you classify these three words they pretty much describe the philosophies of Texas Tech Head Volleyball Coach Jeff Nelson.
After six years as the Red Raider head volleyball coach, Nelson has turned a team that won half of its matches in 1994 prior to his arrival into a successful, dynamic and ever-improving progam. Already in his seven years, Nelson has guided Texas Tech to five NCAA tournament appearances, led the Red Raiders to five 20-win campaigns, recruited and signed the top volleyball athletes in the nation and generated an interest level in volleyball never before seen in Lubbock.
And that’s only the beginning of his accomplishments.
Nelson has also done an exceptional job in the community as well. He holds camps and other charity events during the off-season to promote and generate interest in the game. He promotes his sport to the best of his abilities. But Nelson has not only promoted Texas Tech volleyball, he has has promoted the game of volleyball itself to Lubbock youth. The proof that volleyball is enjoying a surge in Lubbock came from the Tech volleyball camp, which had an increase in 600 participants from 1995 to 1996 (300 participants in 1995 and 900 in 1996). In 2001, Nelson and his staff enjoyed completely full camps featuring campers from all over the state and from other parts of the country as well a trend that has carried on into 2002.
“It’s critical to have a healthy volleyball community,” Nelson points out. “That’s the biggest reason I’m involved. There are a lot of people putting time into it here, but it needed a shot in the arm and we were all going to get involved. I can’t imagine having a strong college team without bringing the community along and improving at all levels.”
In five years working with Lubbock’s club teams, Nelson has turned the program into an up-and-coming national power. Never before in Lubbock history had a Junior Olympic team qualified for the United States Junior Olympic Volleyball Championships. Nelson and Tech assistant Nancy Todd coached both the 14 & Under and the 18 & Under teams to U.S. Junior Olympic Volleyball Championship berths last year. In 1996 Nelson led the team to a fourth place finish at the AAU National Championships and had two players named All-America in the 16 & Under division. In 1998 his team finished seventh nationally with two more All American selections. He has also been involved as the the Director of Texas Power Junior Volleyball program.
Nelson has been successful at every stop during his career both as a player and coach. As a volleyball player at Ball State University, his collegiate team advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 1985. He helped guide Muncie Burris High School to the 1995 Indiana State Volleyball Championship with a 42-0 record while serving as an assistant coach. As a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska, he was part of a program that placed runner-up in the 1986 NCAA Championships.
From Nebraska, he was named assistant head coach in 1988 and head coach of the Minnesota Monarchs of the Major League Volleyball for the 1989 season. He led the Monarchs to a 9-0 start in 1989 and was selected as coach of the East All-Star team.
After the MLV folded, Nelson joined the University of Minnesota volleyball program as an assistant coach. He helped the Golden Gophers post a 29-9 record, place second in the Big Ten Conference and advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 round in 1989.
He was also involved with the club circuit in Minnesota. During the 1989-90 school year, he coached the Golden Spike Juniors, who placed third nationally among the U.S. Junior Olympians 18 & Under group and produced two USJO All-Americas and three high school All-Americas.
Nelson also has international experience as he was named the assistant coach for the 1991 U.S. Junior National Boys team. In 1992, he coached the Junior National Boys Teams to the Canada Cup Challenge championship.
In 1993, he was the assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic Festival women’s North Team that won a Bronze medal in San Antonio and in 1994 he was assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic Festival men’s West Team in St. Louis. That same year he coached the Sun Devil Volleyball Club team to runner-up honors in the U.S. Women’s Open Championships, where three team members were selected as All-Americas.
From 1990 to 1995, Nelson helped Arizona State earn two Sweet Sixteen and three NCAA appearances (1992-93-94) and one NIVC berth (1990) as its assistant volleyball coach. During his five years as recruiting coordinator, he signed four high school All-Americas. His coaching abilities were showcased in the spring of 1994 when head Sun Devil coach Patti Snyder took a six-week maternity leave. He also doubled as Arizona State’s men’s club team coach where he guided the Sun Devils to three Cactus Region championships and three Top 10 national finishes. He also produced five All-America athletes along with one USA Open All-America, placed seventh in the U.S. Open and hosted the 1994 National Club championships. His 1994 club team posted a 68-5 record and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation.
Nelson was also active in youth club volleyball at Arizona State. From 1992 to 1995 Nelson coached the 18 & Under East Valley Volleyball Club to the 1994 and 1995 Cactus Region championship and reached the USJO Final 16 at the USA National Championships.
Eighteen of his former athletes received Division I scholarships, three were selected as Junior National team members, while five were named high school All-Americans. Nelson also served on the Cactus Region Board of Directors from 1992 to 1995.
A native of Austin, Minn., Nelson received his bachelor’s degree from Ball State in 1986, after attending Austin Community College for a year. He played setter and outside hitter for the Cardinals, who posted a 43-26 overall mark and a 9-1 record in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
“I believe in discipline and a strong work ethic mixed in with a fun, competitive spirit,” says Nelson, who has served on the AVCA Top-25 Poll committee for the past four seasons. He is also a member of the AVCA District 5 Committee.
Nelson’s father, Tom, is a former Minnesota State Commissioner of Education, and lives in Buffalo, Minn. His mother, Suzanne Stewart, who works in real estate, resides in Phoenix, Ariz. He has two sisters, Connie and Beth, and a brother Christopher, 13. Nelson has two sons, Harley, who is five years old and Caden.
The Jeff Nelson File
Education: Austin High School (Austin, Minn.); Austin Community College; Bachelor of Arts, Ball State University, 1986.
Coaching Career: 1985- Assistant Volleyball Coach, Burris High School (Ind.); 1986-87- Graduate Assistant, University of Nebraska; 1988-89- Head Volleyball Coach, Minnesota Monarchs; 1989-90- Assistant Volleyball Coach, University of Minnesota; 1990-1995- Assistant Volleyball Coach, Arizona State University; 1995-present- Head Volleyball Coach, Texas Tech University.
Club Coaching Career: 1989-90- US Junior Olympic Third Place 18&under (Golden Spike Juniors-Minneapolis); 1991-95- Head Coach, Arizona State Men's Club Team (3 Cactus Region Championships); 1992-95- Head Coach, East Valley Volleyball Club 18&under (2 Cactus Region Championships); 1994- Head Coach, Sun Devil, U.S. Women's Open Championship runner-up; 1996- US Junior Olympic Qualifier (Lubbock); 1996-97- Director, Lubbock Juniors. U.S.A.V. National Coaching: 1991- Asst. Coach, U.S. Junior National Boys Team; 1992- Head Coach, US Junior National Boys Team; 1993- Assistant Coach-women's, US Olympic Festival (Bronze Medal); 1994- Assistant Coach-men's, U.S. Olympic Festival; 1998-99- Director, Texas Power Junior Volleyball Club.
Team Accomplishments: 1985 Indiana State Champions (Muncie Burris H.S.); 1986 NCAA Finalist (Nebraska); 1989 NCAA Sweet 16 (Minnesota); 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival Bronze Medal (North Team); 1992 NCAA Tourament (Arizona State); 1993 NCAA Tournament (Arizona State); 1994 NCAA Tournament (Arizona State); 1995 NCAA Tournament (Texas Tech); 1996 NCAA Tournament (Texas Tech); 1998 NCAA Tournament (Texas Tech). 2000 NCAA Tournament (Texas Tech)
JEFF NELSON AND ACHIEVEMENT AT TEXAS TECH
• Guided program to five 20+ win seasons
• Led Texas Tech volleyball to four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last five years
• Texas Tech has been a fixture among the nation's top-25 and district's top-10 programs
• Led Red Raiders to (134-67 record)
• Broke team and individual school records in nearly every statistical category
• Recruited several Fab-50 volleyball recruits to Texas Tech
• Recruited and coached GTE Academic Volleyball All American of the Year Jill Burness (1996)
• Recruited Colleen Smith who became Tech's first volleyball All-American (2000 AVCA Second-Team All-American)
NELSON AT TEXAS TECH
Year Institution Record Pct. Big-12 Finish Post-season 1995 Texas Tech 21-12 .636 SWC N/A NCAA Tourn.-2nd Round 1996 Texas Tech 25-9 .739 12-8 6th NCAA Tourn.-1st Round 1997 Texas Tech 23-11 .676 10-10 7th None 1998 Texas Tech 23-11 .676 12-8 T-5th NCAA Tourn.-1st Round Overall 92-43 .681 34-28 N/A 3 NCAA Tourn. App. 1999 Texas Tech 18-15 .545 7-13 8th None 2000 Texas Tech 24-9 .727 12-8 T-5th NCAA-First Rou Overall 134-68 .663 53-49 N/A 4 NCAA Tournaments
NELSON'S FORMER ATHLETES COACHING AT NCAA INSTITUTIONS (6)
Coach Position Kari Anderson Assistant Coach, Hawaii Joe Hesse Head Coach, Gilbert, H.S, Arizona Mike Lessinger Head Coach, Ohio Cristine Martin Assistant Coach, Southern Methodist Scott Swanson Assistant Coach, Arizona State Nancy Todd Assistant Coach, Texas Tech Tammy Jones Assistant Coach, Lubbock Monterey Natalie Rives Head Coach, Lubbock Cooper
WHERE NELSON RANKS AMONG TEXAS TECH'S COACHES
WINNING PERCENTAGE Rk Coach Record Pct. 1. Mike Jones 128-62 .674 2. Jeff Nelson 134-67 .666 3. Janice Hudson 333-199-6 .619 4. Donna Martin 60-54 .526
Official Gear of the