After 17 years at the helm of the Montini girls basketball program, Jason Nichols is stepping down to take the women’s head coaching role at Morton College in Cicero Illinois.
In his 20 years as a head coach (17 at Montini, three at Trinity), Nichols has amassed a total of 590 wins, averaging 30 a year, 17 consecutive conference championships, 11 appearances at Redbird Arena, four state titles, coming in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, and perhaps most important helped 29 young women take the next step to play Division I basketball.
“I experienced so many things through these kids, they took me on a wild ride,” said Nichols. “Today was so difficult calling those people that I wouldn’t be coaching them anymore. There were some emotional conversations. Im thankful, I’m grateful but for the first time in 20 years I have to do what’s best for my family.”
Joining coach Nichols at Morton College will be assistant coach Caprice Smith, who was also apart of the 2003 Trinity team who went down state.
Nichols’ lasting impact on his players can be seen throughout his entire tenure, not only in regards to Coach Smith in his first few years, but even in recent times with players such as Kaylee Bambule, Sam Mitchell and soon to be junior Sophie Sullivan.
“Coach Nichols was the best coach a player could ask for. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity of being coached by such an elite coach,” said Sullivan. “Being coached by him made me a stronger individual and player and I am truly blessed for getting the opportunity to be coached by him for 2 years. He taught me an enormous amount of skills and assets that could be added to my game and although I am sad about him leaving, I know he is going to do great things coaching at the next level and I wish him the best of luck.”
Though we rarely get to see anything other than outer shell of most coaches, through his former players, there was a lot more to the stern, often red-faced coach patrolling the sidelines.
“Coach Nichols pushed me to limits that I never knew existed, he was very tough on us but that was only to get the best out of us and I love him for it,” said 2017 graduate Kaylee Bambule. “What most people didn’t see was his funny side, which is there believe it or not. To this day he is one of my favorite people and the best coach I ever had. I am very thankful that I was able to play for him.”
“I know I’m not for everyone but I still have great conversations with a lot of my former players,” added Nichols. The last time I went to Florida I stopped at UAB to see how [Sam] Mitchell was doing.” said Nichols. “There is a lot more than the outer shell maniac that you see.”
Whether Coach Nichols will be able to replicate his success at Morton College will have to wait a few years.
The Morton women’s basketball program is coming off a 10-19 season last year, but if there’s one thing that Coach Nichols embraces, it’s a challenge.
“It’s not hard to motivate me when it comes to the game of basketball. Going to Morton is a challenge, but with the help of my coaching staff I think we can be really successful,” said Nichols. “You’ll still see me at a lot of the games, just because I love Illinois basketball, it just wont be at half court at Bloomington Normal.”
Statement from Montini principal Kevin Beirne