AYERSVILLE – It will be a new gym, a new scene and a new group of roundballers when Tim Nicely hangs the whistle around his neck as the next Ayersville varsity girls basketball coach.
But a lot of it is going to feel much like home, because it is.
Approved by the Ayersville School Board on Wednesday, Nicely will officially get busy adding to a 32-year coaching career that picks up in the town where it all began as a hopeful young junior high boys basketball mentor at his high school alma mater.
In the wake of 23 successful years spent coaching Ayersville boys and girls planks programs, Nicely’s frontman journey led him to a three-year stint leading the Fayette girls varsity team before just recently wrapping up six solid varsity girls campaigns at Montpelier.
And as of Wednesday, now he’s back.
“Being in Montpelier for six years, it was just a great experience there and I can’t say enough good things about that,” said Nicely. “But the kids needed a new face over there and I decided to step away, and I didn’t know what I was gonna do.
“I thought about maybe just retiring after 32 years,” he admitted. “But I thought, ‘Well, maybe just leave the door open a little bit … you never know.’”
Fate soon came knocking in the form of an opportunity to assume the Lady Pilots’ top spot vacated by Larry Freshour, and it proved to be too tempting to not answer with a resume.
As with many in the coaching realm, the call to remain in the game was still loud and clear and it didn’t take long for Nicely to explore the options.
“I just decided to put my name in for the varsity girls job. I wanted to get back into it,” he said. “I guess after missing about a month and a half, I was getting sort of bored.”
Boredom was never an issue in Nicely’s experience at Ayersville, where most of his success as a coach stemmed from over more than two decades. Out of a 314-265 overall record that excludes just two basketball seasons since 1985, his most prominent stretch was a 163-104 record with the Ayersville JV squad over 15 seasons.
While the area mentor put plenty of miles on over the nine years he’s been away and many faces have changed, Nicely brings a sense of familiarity back to town with him along with assistants Jason Nicely – his son and Ayersville grad – and Chuck Florence.
Throw into the mix the return of longtime Ayersville JV coach Frank Tressler and assistant Mindy Williams, and the Lady Pilots appear to be in a prime position to put a strong team on the floor when the winter season rolls around.
“I’m very, very excited coming back to Ayersville,” said Nicely, whose six seasons at Montpelier yielded a 56-80 record. “I don’t know a lot of these kids. I know a couple of the parents because I coached their moms when I was the JV coach, so it’s just gonna be a neat experience.
“It’s just fun working with the kids, and hopefully I will finish my career here at Ayersville,” he said. “It’s just nice to go completely full-circle. It’s a pretty neat way to go back into it.”
Nicely – who also has three seasons as the Ayersville freshman girls mentor on his coaching palette – inherits a Lady Pilots squad that came on strong a year ago down the stretch, winning seven games of a 10-13 final mark through its last 13 contests. The Pilots also made some noise in the GMC standings, finishing in the middle of the league lane with a 4-3 showing.
Five of those Lady Pilots will not return this year due to graduation, but the new head coach has already gotten a brief opportunity to see some of the talent he will have to align in his first season in charge.
It has been another positive step down a homecoming path that has been a stellar experience thus far with preparation on the horizon.
“I saw them last night just for a little bit at the Tuesday night league, and some kids have really worked hard,” said Nicely. “It seemed like they have great attitudes, and that’s where it starts. We’ll work on the things we need to work on, but it’s just fun to be back at Ayersville.
“We’ve got a great new facility and I had a great interview with (Ayersville athletic director) Rob Luderman, who is a class act there at Ayersville. I think with the school and the administration there at Ayersville, I think it’s gonna be a good fit for a long time.”