BASKETBALL: Gavilan hires new women’s basketball head coach

Freshman Erik Nelson, of Gilroy, takes an elbow to the face as

For the first time since the 2004-05 season, Gavilan College will have a women’s basketball team. And Erik Nelson has been hired as the Rams’ head coach to begin the ground-up resurrection of the program.

Gavilan athletic director Ron Hannon made the announcement Thursday after a nearly two-month search.

“We’re extremely excited about what Erik has to offer our student-athletes, Gavilan College and this community,” Hannon stated in a press release. “Being a local, Erik understands the value of our students and what an experience at Gavilan College can offer them, both in the short and long term. He has always been a hard worker whose priorities have always been on the full development of the student-athlete. Having placed high school players into both community colleges and at the four-year level, Erik will be able to extend his knowledge and experience to our student-athletes.”

Gavilan now offers four men’s sports – football, baseball, soccer and basketball – and three women’s sports – softball, volleyball and basketball.

“I’m really excited to come back to a program that I have such fond memories of,” Nelson said in a phone interview Thursday. “My biggest goal is to create a sense of continuity and community within the program. In doing that, in this first year, one of the most important things is establishing Gavilan as a viable option for recruits. It’s going to be about establishing the culture here.”

Nelson, a graduate of Gilroy High School (2002), where he was part of the Mustangs’ Monterey Bay League championship squad that season, and former member of the men’s basketball team at Gavilan College from 2002-04, will begin working immediately to start up the program with recruiting included in a list of top priorities.

“The first thing I want to do is solidify my coaching staff,” Nelson said. “At this level, having a versatile staff that has specializations in certain positions is really beneficial to the players. I want (players) to get 30 minutes every day of just fundamentals. One of the biggest things I’m going to stress is being a versatile basketball player. I want to prep my players to have success at a four-year program.”

From there, Nelson said, it’s about searching out the local talent.

“It’s really exciting to be a part of a program where you get to determine where the program goes and how people view it from this point forward,” Nelson said. “This is a great opportunity.”

After his two seasons playing for Gavilan, Nelson transferred to Bethany University to continue his career. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications. As a member of the university’s basketball team, Nelson tied the school record with nine 3-pointers made in one game.

Currently, Nelson is completing his master’s degree in Sports Leadership at Concordia University. He has served as an assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at both William Jessup University and Dominican University. He also served as a player development coach for Jennifer Azzi at the University of San Francisco, according to the press release.

The Rams plan on opening their 2012-13 season at West Hills College in Lemoore on Nov. 13 of this year.

“I want recruits to see this program as not just a back-up plan, or fourth or fifth on their list, but as a premier destination and place they want to be,” Nelson said.

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