A national search for the Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s ice hockey coach resulted in finding the selected candidate just four blocks away.
Wil Nichol, a former UW-Stevens Point player — and coach of the Stevens Point Area Senior High School boys’ hockey team the past two years — has been named as the fourth coach in the Pointers’ 26-year hockey history.
Nichol, 33, takes over a Stevens Point program that has one of the deepest traditions in Division III hockey with four national championships and two runner-up finishes in nine national tournament appearances.
“I expect excellence,” Nichol said. “I expect it academically, in the community and on the ice. I will do everything I can to uphold the great tradition of this program and hopefully add to it.”
“Based on Wil’s coaching experiences, his passion for Pointer hockey, this university and the Stevens Point community in general, he was a natural choice,” UW-Stevens Point Athletics Director Frank O’Brien said.
Nichol was a defenseman for the Pointers from 1994-98 and captained UW-Stevens Point’s NCAA Division III runner-up team in 1998 under former coach Joe Baldarotta, who recently resigned after 16 seasons. Nichol played in all 121 possible career games with the Pointers, totaling five goals and 20 assists.
“There’s nothing to describe the feeling I have right now,” said the Madison, Wis., native. “It’s a huge honor. To coach at your alma mater, a team that you bled for, a university that you love and a community that you consider home, I don’t know how to put that into words.”
Most recently, Nichol coached Stevens Point Area Senior High to a pair of state tournament appearances and a 46-3 record over two seasons.
He spent the 1998-99 season as a student assistant coach with the Pointers and completed his degree in English. While at UW-Stevens Point, Nichol received the Chancellor’s Leadership Award and the athletic department’s citizenship award. Nichol was then a graduate assistant coach for two seasons at Miami University, earning a master’s degree in Physical Education, Health and Sports Studies.
Nichol was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for one season with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League before assuming head coach and general manager roles for the IMG Academy Midget AAA team in Bradenton, Fla. the following year. He returned to Chicago as the head coach and general manager for two seasons in 2003-05 and became the only rookie coach in USHL history to land league coach of the year honors after taking the Steel from ninth place to their only regular season Eastern Conference title in franchise history. Nichol coached 30 players who went on to play Division I college hockey.
He has also served as a head coach and assistant coach at several USA Hockey festivals for select 15, 16 and 17 players. Nichol has assisted with numerous hockey camps, including those at Miami and UW-Stevens Point.