Entering her 10th year of coaching, Nicole Abbott will lead the Greenbrier High School volleyball team when it opens its 2014 season on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
Abbott took over in May when Greenbrier’s first volleyball coach, Debbie Born, retired.
“For me, it seems like a natural point in my life to take over this position, it’s a natural point in her life to leave it,” said the 24-year-old Abbott. “So, as far as being only the second coach, it’s not something I can comprehend. In a lot of ways it’s the same pressure if I was the seventh coach and it’s just a strong program coming through. If anything, it’s easier because I’m communicating with the only other person – there’s no holes, it’s the one person.”
Abbott started coaching while a player at Augusta Preparatory Day School, helping head coach Rich Bland with his camps the summer before her sophomore year and started working with the CSRA Heat when her father took over as director. An all-state player, she co-captained two state-title teams, including the 2007 team that went 24-3 and was inducted into Augusta Prep’s Steven Brooks Boyd Hall of Fame.
Abbott went to Winthrop University where she earned her English and secondary education degrees in 2012. She stopped playing competitively while going through the university, but continued to coach local clubs and started back with the CSRA Heat after graduation. She joins the Lady Wolfpack after a year working with the JV program at Wardlaw Academy.
“I am very happy and excited that Nicole has the opportunity to coach a fine program like Greenbier’s,” Bland said. “She has huge shoes to fill following a legend like coach Born, but I feel that Nicole is wise in coaching beyond her years.”
Abbott was able to jump in right after the 2013 school year was over, leading the Lady Wolfpack to a summer league title at Grovetown. It helped both sides of the equation learn about the other without a time crunch applying pressure. She was able to make an impression in her first meeting with the team.
“I’ve always been loud,” Abbott said. “I’ve always been incredibly passionate about what I do. I don’t think I needed to run them into the ground. It just worked and they really responded to what I had to say and we went from there. I think the summer as a whole was kind of putting everyone in a comfortable position to come into tryouts and have that respect and move forward and have a really assertive group.”
While strong on her own merits, it didn’t hurt that Abbott had support from the highest level of the volleyball program.
“The thing that convinced me she was the one, was that Debbie Born endorsed it,” said Greenbrier athletic director Garrett Black. “She endorsed it and that was it.”
Abbott said she and Born were constantly e-mailing the first week she took the position. Whether Born remembered or not, she may have started the wheels in motion in finding her replacement years ago.
“I came to a Greenbrier volleyball camp when I was a middle-school player and she (Born) asked me if I played club and I didn’t,” Abbott said. “I came home and it was the coolest thing, the coach thought I was good enough to play club. And that got me started in playing travel ball. And that got me moving forward.”