Andrew Nicola has been named head wrestling coach at Concordia University, the Nebraska-based school announced Friday.
Nicola replaces Dana Vote, who left Concordia to become the director of wrestling operations at Iowa State University after four seasons with the Bulldogs. Nicola, a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, becomes the third head coach since the program's rebirth in 2009, taking over a team coming off back-to-back Great Plains Athletic Conference titles.
Nicola brings diverse coaching experience to Concordia. For the past two years, as an assistant coach at California Baptist University, Nicola worked closely with head coach Lenny Zalesky to guide the Lancers to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship and then placed second in its region and sixth at the NCAA Division II National Championships.
Heavyweight Joe Fagiano took home the program's first-ever NCAA title, while four Lancers earned NCAA All-American honors. In addition, CBU finished in the top 10 nationally in terms of grade point average during both of Nicola's seasons at the southern California school.
Prior to landing at CBU, Nicola made a positive difference in two seasons at Cumberland University in Tennessee, which, like Concordia, is a NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) program. The 2013-14 Bulldogs recorded the program's highest-ever finishes at the NAIA National Championships (sixth), National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals (third) and NWCA Academic All-American Team standings (fourth). Six Cumberland wrestlers found their way to the All-America stand at the 2014 national championships. One won a national title and another finished runner up.
In addition, Nicola has coached at University of Central Missouri, an NCAA Division II program, as well as at two different Indiana high schools, Bloomington South and Culver Academies. Nicola has also coached on the international scene, having served on the Indiana National Team coaching staff, where he garnered Indiana Cadet/Junior Coach of the Year honors in 2012. He holds a USA Wrestling Silver Certification.
Nicola graduated from Indiana University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in biology. He went on to complete a master's degree in athletic and sport business administration in 2012 from Central Missouri. He also earned a master's degree in education from Cumberland.
"We're blessed to welcome Andrew Nicola to the Bulldog Nation as our new Head Wrestling Coach.," said Concordia Director of Athletics Devin Smith. "Andrew has spent his coaching career preparing for this moment. We have no doubt that he will continue the momentum that has been built within our wrestling program by his predecessor, coach Dana Vote. Andrew brings strong Christian character and instant credibility into the room as a technician and as a strong recruiter with many connections throughout the country. He's been part of championship programs and we're excited about the winning pedigree he brings to Concordia. Andrew's passion for the sport and for life are clearly evident. We are looking forward to seeing what heights our wrestling program will reach with Andrew leading the way."
"It is an honor beyond measure to be the head coach at Concordia University," Nicola said. "Concordia is an opportunity for me to use my God-given talents and passion for wrestling to lead this program. It is my duty to serve these young men in every capacity to help them achieve their goals socially, academically and athletically. I was drawn to the family atmosphere of the school and of the community and to the school's investment in athletics. My vision for Concordia wrestling is for it to continue be a nationally recognized and respected program both on and off of the mats."
The new head wrestling coach of the Concordia wrestling program which won GPAC dual and postseason championships and placed eighth at the NAIA National Championships added that he is eager to take the Bulldogs to even greater heights.
"I want anyone and everyone who hears about our boys to associate them with respect, hard work, discipline and loyalty. That's a recipe for success in all facets of our lives," said Nicola. "There's such a solid group returning and coming in that our goal should not be short of a top five finish in the classroom, at nationals and at the national duals this season. We will continue to build off of the success that coach Vote had and we will set our sights on earning a NAIA National Championship."
Levi Calhoun remains the assistant wrestling coach for the Bulldogs.
Located in Seward, Nebraska, Concordia University is a four-year, private school affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Concordia has an enrollment of approximately 2,700 students.