Nicole Hess played four years of collegiate volleyball at St. Olaf, was the head volleyball coach at St. Catherine for six years, and now takes over the head coaching position for the College of Saint Benedict volleyball team. Hess replaces Michelle Blaeser, who coached the Blazers for 10 seasons before taking the head coaching position at St. Cloud State University in late February. "I'm extremely excited," said Hess. "I'm really looking forward to the professional opportunity that's been presented to me. This is a great fit."
"This is an established program with a lot of history," Hess said. "There are things I feel I can bring that will make a difference, and there are things that I want to maintain. They've been successful in the past and they've done things the right way. I want to put my own stamp on the team. But I also want to continue the tradition that's been built."
Hess and current Blazers assistant coach Amanda Anderson, who has been running the program since Blaeser's departure, were the two finalists for the job. St. Benedict athletic director Carol Howe-Veenstra said it was a difficult choice, but in the end the school decided on Hess. She mentioned that it was clear that the seven years Hess spent as St. Catherine's head coach really provided her with a great teaching background. "She had the ability to step forward and really communicate what her plans for our program were," Howe-Veenstra commented.
Though Anderson is unsure of her plans, Hess said she would love to have her remain a part of the Blazers' coaching staff. "I wholeheartedly hope Amanda will continue as a coach with Blazers volleyball," Hess said. "I've seen her recruiting and she's intense, focused and successful. I'd love to have her remain a part of this program."
St. Benedict junior right-side hitter Kayli Schumacher said she and her teammates were impressed with Hess during the interview process. "She knows the type of volleyball we play in this conference," Schumacher said. "Having coached against us in past years, she knows a lot about our program and the kind of volleyball we want to play."