January 27th, 2012
Hyland's Heroes: Billy Nold
Local volleyball player giving back to his alma mater
When one thinks of Louisville high school volleyball, the powerhouse programs of Assumption, Mercy Academy and Sacred Heart Academy immediately come to mind. But for this week’s Hyland’s Heroes feature, Billy Nold, volleyball was a sport that he and his brother got involved with because of their mother’s connection with the local volleyball scene in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Billy Nold is in his fourth year as coach of the St. Agnes boys volleyball team, his second year as coach of the 7th/8th grade “A” team. He’s coached his grade school alma mater to a “B” team championship in his first year and to a city championship final last year. His St. Agnes teams have enjoyed a lot of success.
He and his younger brother Rick are just a year apart. They picked up the sport as young kids tagging along with their mother to play at The Brewery sand volleyball court. He played pickup games throughout his high school career at St. Xavier and played club volleyball at the University of Kentucky.
“My mom started us playing in adult leagues when we (he and his brother) were 14 and 15 years old,” Nold recalled. “We played a lot as kids with some of the local legends like the Monks and the Mingus families. When The Brewery opened in 1984 with one sand court, volleyball started taking off. Within a few years, there were three more sand courts for all the people who wanted to play. Then Ohio Valley Volleyball Center opened in 1992 and the kids of these adult-league participants started playing.”
While they may have played all over the city and at UK, Billy and Rick got their coaching careers started in the CSAA with the very first St. Agnes boys volleyball team in 1989.
Nold talks fondly of his younger brother’s career in volleyball as a player and a coach. Rick Nold is currently the head coach at Auburn University and was the coach for nine years at Jacksonville State University. He took JSU to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance and led them to their program’s first ever NCAA tournament win.
“Rick and I were gym rats,” said Nold. “When your mom’s playing volleyball in all these leagues you sit on the side and just play. The Garvey brothers were the same way. All of the older generation still play in competitive leagues. Those guys in their 50’s and 60’s go to nationals every year in their age division. That generation got everybody playing and then their kids and so on.”
Though he still plays a couple times a week, Nold has curtailed his playing time a bit to accommodate his coaching schedule. When he got married, he was approached by some coaches at St. Agnes to help with the volleyball team. And with a 15 month old daughter, Nold can see where it’s all headed for him.
“Right after I got married to Jill at St. Agnes, they asked me to coach,” he said. “It’s part of my time, talent and treasure, my commitment to the church.”
While he credits “getting married and settling down” as the primary reasons for getting involved, he’s already seen the benefits of coaching having an impact on his life.
“A lot of the younger boys in Louisville grow up playing volleyball with their older sisters,” Nold noted. “If any of their sisters played, the boys would pick it up. We’re not a high intensity sport just yet, but we do have a lot of fun. I only have eight to ten kids on a team, and you’ve got to have fun to keep them focused at practice. A few of them have gone on to St. X and Trinity to play as well.”
He notes that it is a bit of a “filler-sport” between basketball and baseball and the kids tend to learn on the fly. “You don’t have a lot of time to teach strategies and high end skills,” he said. “It’s about a four week season and then the tournament takes another week or ten days. So you have a concentrated period of time to get them to work together.”
As for those benefits to his life, Nold said: “It’s really nice to see them play in high school. I’ll see them at Lakeside and they’ll come up to say hello. Or even the way they’ll approach me and my wife and daughter. They’re respectful. That’s rewarding, too, having young men see you two or three years later say, ‘Hi coach’, and to see them mature.”
As he is just four years into his coaching career, the future may hold several more years on the sidelines of the St. Agnes team for Nold. “I have a daughter,” he proudly stated. “And they start those kids playing volleyball in first grade. In five years my daughter will be playing volleyball at St. Agnes. I’ll continue coaching the boys and probably end up switching to the girls side when my daughter starts playing. I hope to be coaching for another 15 years or longer.”