By Rubin E. Grant
Vickie Nichols still loves volleyball, but now she’s ready to do something else.
Nichols has announced that she is retiring as Mountain Brook’s head coach at the end of the school year.
“Volleyball is my passion, but it’s not my life,” Nichols said. “My life has always been faith, family and mission and serving people.”
Nichols’ coaching career has spanned 33 years, including the last four at Mountain Brook. She guided the Spartans to two state championships while compiling a 162-48 record.
“I’ve enjoyed coaching,” Nichols said. “But I knew coming to Mountain Brook would be my last stop. It’s been a good stop. But now it’s just time. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve always known when it was time.”
Nichols grew up in Florence and was a three-sport athlete at Bradshaw High School before going to Mississippi State on a volleyball scholarship.
She started her coaching career at Hazlewood High, then began the volleyball program at Northwest Shoals Community College alongside college teammate Tina Seals. She remained there for six years before becoming the head coach at Samford.
Nichols also had assistant coaching jobs at Hoover and Oak Mountain. Before going to Mountain Brook, she lived in Quito, Ecuador, where she taught and coached in an International Christian School.
Nichols guided the Spartans to Elite 8 State Tournament runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018. She set a school record for wins with a 59-7 record while winning the Class 7A title in 2019. After dropping to Class 6A in 2020, she led the Spartans to a 34-12 record and another state title.
“It’s good to go out on top,” Nichols said. “I’ve been blessed. I was put in a lot of different situations and formed a lot of great relationships.
“I am thankful to our athletic director, Benny Eaves, and administration for the opportunity they gave me to coach at Mountain Brook and trusting me with the program. I can’t thank my assistant coaches enough for their hard work, loyalty and friendship.”
Eaves described Nichols’ decision as bittersweet.
“We appreciate coach Nichols’ commitment and dedication to our student- athletes and athletic department,” Eaves said. “While I am happy for her and her family, I am also saddened in knowing we are saying goodbye to a Spartan family member, quality coach and great person who has contributed to our success.”
Nichols believes Mountain Brook will continue to contend for state titles after she leaves.
“The program is in good shape,” she said. “There is a core group coming back and some good young players coming in, so they will have the potential to win another championship.”
Nichols plans to take a break for a while, then spend time with her family. She and her husband, Chris, have nine children and four grandchildren spread across the world.
“I’m ready to do something else and go visit my grandchildren,” Nichols said. “I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next, but I am not worried about it. I am looking to the Lord.
“I probably won’t feel I’m retired from coaching until the start of August, when it is time for the volleyball season to start,” she added with a laugh.