Welcome back, Nikki

Former Gilroy High, Gavilan and San Jose State softball star

Gilroy – After spending the last five years coaching softball at
De Anza College, Gilroy native Nikki Dequin is getting back to her
Garlic City roots.
Yesterday, Gavilan College announced that Dequin will be the new
interim head softball coach for the Lady Rams, for whom the
27-year-old both played and coached in the past.
Gilroy – After spending the last five years coaching softball at De Anza College, Gilroy native Nikki Dequin is getting back to her Garlic City roots.

Yesterday, Gavilan College announced that Dequin will be the new interim head softball coach for the Lady Rams, for whom the 27-year-old both played and coached in the past.

“It actually feels really good, like this is where I should be,” Dequin said. “I’m coming home. It’s kind of neat.”

From the De Anza dugout during the De Anza-Gavilan game this past season, Dequin liked what she saw on the Lady Rams’ side.

“I like the heart in the girls and the fight,” Dequin said. “De Anza played a great game against them, and I was really impressed. (The Gavilan players) always give 110 (percent) no matter what and that’s awesome.”

Now, that squad will be hers.

Dequin, a 1995 Gilroy High graduate, spent the last two of her five years at De Anza as co-head coach for the softball program. Before De Anza, she was an assistant coach at Gavilan for the 2000 season. After high school, Dequin played two seasons of softball at Gavilan before moving on to play at San Jose State. She graduated cum laude from SJSU in 2000 with a degree in kinesiology, which she has put to use as a certified fitness professional at 24 Hour Fitness in Morgan Hill.

A press release from Gavilan said Dequin will serve in the part-time interim head coach position for one year and in April of next year, after a few months of exploring options, the college will hire a permanent, full-time coach for the program.

Dequin hopes that she’ll be considered.

“That’s my goal,” Dequin said. “You need to have stability. You need someone full-time there. The girls want to see that there’s going to be someone there next year.”

Dequin takes the reins of a program that has been surrounded by some controversy since March, when former head coach Tim Kenworthy was not offered tenure as an instructor and coach at the college. Kenworthy, who was named the Coast Conference South division’s Coach of the Year this season, accused Gavilan of not granting him tenure because he raised questions about Title IX compliance in women’s athletics at the school. On March 14, Kenworthy filed an official Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). On April 8, the college received a letter from the OCR saying that Kenworthy’s complaints warranted an investigation. The outcome of that investigation is still pending.

Following the season, several players told the Dispatch that they would not return to the softball program next season if Kenworthy wasn’t going to be the coach. Seven players from this spring’s squad have the option to return for another season.

Dequin is aware of the team’s past problems, but said the players she has talked to have thus far been very receptive to her hiring.

“I have had contact with a few of them,” Dequin said. “I wanted to talk to them before they see it in the paper. … They’ve been pretty positive and haven’t mentioned any hostility toward the program at all.”

Among Dequin’s goals is to bring stability to a softball program that hasn’t always had it. In 2001, the team didn’t have a season at all due to lack of interest.

“I (want to) get stability into the program and show (people), hey, we mean business,” she said. “We want to play ball.”

As a former collegiate player not far removed from her days at Gavilan, Dequin hopes to bring some valuable insight to her new team.

“I’ve had such positive experiences, but I’ve been around the game so long and I have had not so great experiences, too,” Dequin said. “I can sympathize with young athletes. l know exactly what it’s like having been there not too long ago.”

Dequin comes from a family rich in diamond tradition and with strong ties to Gavilan. Her younger brother Benji, a former Gilroy High standout and minor league baseball player who was released from the St. Louis Cardinals farm system last year, is an assistant coach with the Gavilan baseball team. Ryan, the youngest Dequin, plays collegiate ball at Montreat College in North Carolina, where he will be a senior next year.

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