Nilsson named Huskies volleyball coach
Elizabeth Mulson grew up down valley, playing volleyball at Eagle Valley, where she graduated in 1994.
Fast-forward eight years later, Elizabeth Nilsson – she was married earlier this year – is trading red and black for black and gold after being named Battle Mountain’s volleyball coach.
“It won’t be strange at all. I don’t even think about it,” Nilsson said. “It’s just fun to be a part of the youth community in the Vail Valley now. With the (Vail Avalanche volleyball) club, I’ve gotten a chance to get to know a bunch of the kids and the parents. It’s kind of fun being on the other end of the spectrum now as an adult in the valley.”
After graduating from high school, Nilsson spent one year at Fort Lewis as a walk-on. Her volleyball resume also includes stints as a coach at volleyball clinics at Durango and Ignacio High Schools, coaching high school age-players. The last two years, she’s served as a coach with the Avalanche club, leading U-14 and U-15 teams.
Her local ties, as well as her knowledge of the local volleyball scene was a big plus, according to Battle Mountain athletic director Fred Koetteritz.
“She expressed a great interest in establishing a program,” he said. “She lives here. I think there’s a stability factor there – her wanting to build a program, not just looking for a one-year cure. She’s interested in building an entire program from the freshman level to the varsity.”
Stability in the coaching ranks is a big concern when it comes to Battle Mountain volleyball. After Kurt Batchelder’s lengthy tenure ended after the 2000 season, Battle Mountain struggled to find a coach before long-time local volleyball player Monty McBride stepped in for a year.
Nilsson will face a challenge in rebuilding a Huskies program, which has fallen on hard times since moving up to Class 4A two summers ago. Having coached the U-14’s and U-15’s at the club level, Nilsson was a regular at freshmen and junior-varsity games last season as well as a few varsity games.
“I think more than anything – knowing the kids is a big plus – it’s knowing the parents and just being a familiar face for the kids and the parents makes the political end of it easier,” Nilsson said. “We’ll see. Kids and parents like to see the same person.”
Expect a fundamentals-first approach from Nilsson when training camp opens Aug. 12. Her time at the club level has convinced her of that philosophy.
“You always need to go back to your basics. The basics will win your games,” she said. “Just in my experience on the club level, my team two years ago wasn’t necessarily the strongest team in our division, but we won three solid tournaments, going undefeated. We weren’t necessarily the stronger team, We outserved teams and just went back to the basics and we won games. Every coach’s goal is you want to go to the top. We’d love to go to state, if not this year then next year.”