BY MARK DAVIS
Who is Jim Nestor?
A normal, hardworking husband, and father of three, but he’s also something else – he’s one of Salisbury University’s most successful coaches.
Nestor’s a coach with three national championships, seven NCAA finalist appearances, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and 13 CAC championships. As the head coach of the women’s lacrosse team, winning has become the norm.
Nestor has built a dynasty in his past 15 years coaching at SU.
A SU graduate in 1990, Nestor holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was a four-year letterman for men’s lacrosse and wrestling. His wife Linda also graduated from SU and was a four-year letterman on the women’s lax team.
Lacrosse and the Nestors go hand-in-hand.
Education is also important to the 15-year head coach. In 1992, he earned his masters at Frostburg State University for health and physical education.
As he began his coaching career, Nestor became the assistant women’s lacrosse coach at Colby-Sawyer College where he got his first real taste of coaching.
“I loved it, very small school, very tough to recruit to, but it was a great first coaching experience,” Nestor said.
Following two years with the program, Nestor became the head coach at Division II’s Gannon University. For six seasons, he coached both women’s lacrosse and soccer, recording a successful legacy with Gannon that included three ECAC championships.
His previous coaching experience and passion for the game guided him back to his alma mater for a head coach position with the Sea Gulls.
It didn’t take long for Nestor to make his mark on the program, making the CAC tournament in his first season and following it up with an NCAA tournament appearance in 2003.
Since Nestor has taken over, the women’s lacrosse team holds an 89-2 conference record, and has qualified for the NCAA tournament the past 13 years.
He cherishes his coaching commitment, and has been putting in overtime for his craft as long as he can remember.
“It isn’t considered work to me. This job, being here for 20 hours and not even realizing it, in love of what you’re doing,” Nestor said.
Long days and nights are rewarded with a longer season, and a successful post season is what Nestor is very well-known for, making the playoffs every season he’s been with SU.
Like many great coaches, Nestor has taught many top Division III athletes and cherishes the time he has with each and every one of his athletes.
His players as well have formed bonds with their coach that they believe will last a lifetime. In their eye’s, Nestor isn’t just a coach, he’s their number one supporter.
“He always has our backs and he is just a huge supporter of everyone, he gets on you when you do the wrong thing, but the second you do something good he’s there to praise you,” junior defender Kacy Koolage said.
Koolage is a transfer from High Point University and is one of the team’s top defenders in 2016. She admits it was Nestor’s legacy and notoriety that brought her to SU.
“To me he’s a big role model I have a lot of respect for him, I’ve never had a coach that can change the play of the game in a split second,” Koolage said.
Nestor also has been a leader on the team, and inspires his players to put all their effort forward and to never give up.
“He is an extremely respectable man, he would never lead you in the wrong way and is always trying to get you to be better,” Koolage said.
Freshman attack Gabrielle Mongno is one of the Sea Gulls’ new faces, and has found Nestor’s coaching style has shaped her into the player, and person she is today.
“He taught me how to become a better attack-men and things I need to do to become a better player on this team; to always keep working hard and in the end the results you want will come,” Mongo said.
Despite only being on the team for less than a year, Mongno sees what separates Nestor from other lacrosse coaches in the nation.
“I think he coaches different from other coaches which contributes to our wins in many ways, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had and he knows what he’s talking about,” Mongno said.
From the freshman to the seniors, working as a unit is the top key to success in Nestor’s eyes. High intensity levels week in and week out are a normal game plan strategy for the team.
“If we’re smoking our B-team, our offense isn’t getting any better, so we really make sure that everyone from top to bottom is producing and is making the other player that they’re competing against better,” Nestor said.
Regardless of when Nestor decides to hang up his clipboard, it is clear he has already left his legacy in Salisbury. He preaches hard work, determination and above all passion for the game, and knows with a little hard work, anyone can achieve their goal.
“The harder you work your going to reach those rewards,” Nestor said.