KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Alex Nichols of Central Methodist (Mo.) has been named the 2018 Select Sport America-NAIA Men’s Soccer Coach of the year, the NAIA announced Thursday. In the first postseason soccer appearance in school history, Nichols’ Eagles won the national championship with a win over Missouri Valley that was decided in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie through two periods of overtime in Irvine, Calif.
The announcement occurred Thursday at the United Soccer Coaches’ National Convention in Chicago.
Nichols’ fifth season at Central Methodist saw the Eagles soar to unprecedented heights, but their ascension into a national power has been gaining steam since his tenure began. In 2017, Nichols led the Eagles to a then-program-best 13-3-3 record, but it did not end in a postseason appearance. Since 2015, Nichols’ teams at Central Methodist have gone a combined 60-13-8, including a 22-2-2 mark in 2018, their national-championship season.
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This season, four of Nichols' players were first-team All-America selections: forward Daniel Hernandez, midfielder Adrian Gutierrez, defender Wilfried Nyamsi and goalkeeper Vince Gelei. A fifth player, defender Santiago Sierra, was a second-team All-American.
In addition, Gutierrez was honored as the 2018 NAIA Men's Soccer National Player of the Year.
The 2018 Select Sport America-NAIA National Coach of the Year is voted on by the NAIA-Men’s Soccer Coaches Association and is announced at the annual National Convention. To be eligible, a head coach must be selected as their conference or unaffiliated group coach of the year or lead their team to the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship postseason play.
Also announced during the National Convention was the 2018 Champions of Character Select Sport America-NAIA Scholarship Recipient. The winner is Austin Halsey of Baker (Kan.). The recipient is determined by the Men’s Soccer National Championship Tournament Committee. The criteria take into consideration is a display of exemplary character and sportsmanship on the field, on campus, and in the community, surrounding the five core values of the Champions of Character program