HOUGHTON — After leading Houghton volleyball for 22 seasons, Highlanders head coach Nancy Cole is stepping away from the program.
Cole leaves with a career record of 371-330, including 13 seasons with records of .500 or better and eight seasons of 20-plus wins. She produced winning records in each of her first seven seasons, including six-straight 20-win seasons, two regional titles and two NAIA National Tournament appearances (1998 and 2000).
“Coach Cole has been an outstanding volleyball coach for us for a number of years now. We are saddened by her departure, but we also want to take this opportunity to celebrate her career not only as an exemplary volleyball coach, but more importantly as a leader in our department who has demonstrated what it means to model Christ for her athletes,” said Director of Athletics Matthew Webb. “Nancy has poured into hundreds of young volleyball player’s lives over the years. Her commitment to sports ministry both internally with her athletes as well as through numerous trips around the world with her players is a testament to her passion both for volleyball and for using volleyball as a means to reach others for Christ.”
Cole’s 1998 team finished 27-9 after capturing the Northeast Atlantic Conference crown and winning the Northeast Region title to reach the NAIA National Tournament for the first time in school history. Cole led her team back to nationals in 2000 after upsetting the top seeds in both the conference and regional tournaments. That team finished 26-16 and put Cole over the 100 career win plateau during the season.
Despite losing six seniors the previous year, Cole’s 2002 team earned a trip to the NAIA Region IX finals and finished with a 21-16 record. For that effort Cole was named American Mideast Conference North Division Coach of the Year.
Cole reached a milestone with her 300th coaching victory in 2013 and the squad finished with a mark of 20-11.
In 2014, she guided her squad to a 17-17 mark and the program’s first-ever Empire 8 Tournament. The team also advanced to the NCCAA National Tournament. Her 2015 team finished 20-11 for the program’s eighth 20-win season during her tenure.
Cole had taken a sabbatical from the program in 2017 before returning to lead the team for the 2018 campaign.
During her time at the helm, Cole led her team on six international sports ministry trips, including five to Nicaragua and one to Honduras.
After graduating from Houghton Academy where she played volleyball, Cole decided to attend Houghton College where she was a three-year member of the varsity team, twice being named as an NCCAA Academic All-American and also being honored with a first-team all-conference selection after her senior year. After graduating in 1990, Cole spent time helping with nearby Fillmore Central School’s team before coming back to Houghton as an assistant coach for two years and taking over the program in 1996.