by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – David Nicholson, a highly successful assistant coach for much of the past decade and a former All-American sprinter, has been named head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track programs at Barton College, school officials announced Wednesday.
Nicholson comes to Barton from American International College in Springfield, Mass., where he has served as an assistant coach and then associate head coach since 2014.
Earlier this year, Nicholson was honored as NCAA Division II East Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the 2015-16 indoor season by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
He was honored by the USTFCCCA after helping the Yellow Jackets to their second straight Northeast-10 Conference title while coaching the team’s sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers. Three of the athletes he directed claimed league titles and two advanced to the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships.
In his two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Nicholson guided five athletes to NCAA Division II All-America honors and four to Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year awards.
AIC reached the NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Championships in both of his seasons after winning East Region titles, and the men’s track teams won three combined indoor and outdoor conference crowns. The Yellow Jackets’ distance medley team won an NCAA national title at the 2016 Indoor National Championships,
“It is with great excitement that we welcome Coach David Nicholson to our athletics team,” said Todd Wilkinson, Barton’s director of athletics. “David comes highly recommended, and he lived up to his references and then some on his campus interview. His engaging personality and obvious passion for his profession is immediately apparent from the first handshake. The first impression only gets better as you learn more about David as a professional and a person.
“Coach Nicholson has a big job ahead of him coaching six teams,” Wilkinson added. “However, he has a strong background in all of the cross country and track and field disciplines. He has a proven track record of developmental success. Athletes under David have gotten better and are winners. He knows what it takes to get to elite status and is able to communicate this clearly. Our programs are in great hands moving forward with David.”
Nicholson was a 2006 All-American in the 400-meters while competing for Eastern Connecticut State University, where he was twice named the school’s Male Athlete of the Year.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in sport management from Eastern Connecticut, Nicholson began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at NCAA Division I program Wagner College while also obtaining a master’s degree in international business administration.
He stepped outside of collegiate coaching for three years while serving as a sports performance specialist with Integrated Athletic Performance, during which time he had the opportunity to be involved with both the 2010 and 2011 NFL Combines.
He returned to the college ranks in 2012, accepting an assistant coaching position at Queens (N.Y.) College. He spent two seasons with Queens, helping the Knights to an East Coast Conference title in men’s outdoor track in 2013, before joining the staff at AIC.
“I am truly honored to be hired as head coach of the cross country and track programs at Barton,” Nicholson said. “I am excited to be part of programs with such great potential, and to represent the Barton programs, institution, and community both on and off the track. I believe Barton to be a great place to grow and develop student-athletes who will make a positive difference in our society.
“I would like to thank Athletic Director Wilkinson and the search committee for this great opportunity,” Nicholson added. “I look forward to leading these programs into a successful future with young men and women who take pride in being a Bulldog.”
Nicholson achieved USATF Level 1 certification in 2010 and Level 2 certification in 2015.
He will begin his duties immediately. The Barton cross country teams will compete in their first meet of the 2016 season on September 3.