HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College is pleased to announce the hiring of Derrick Nelson as the Cobras' head wrestling coach, Dr. Lynn Griffin, vice president of athletics and athletic facilities announced today. Nelson returns to Coker after competing for the Cobra wrestling team from 2014-16. In addition, Nelson earned his bachelor's and Master's degrees from Coker College. Nelson is the third head coach in program history.
"We are excited to have Derrick at the helm of the wrestling program," said Griffin. "Derrick brings the recruiting and wrestling experience to the program that will aid him in continuing to build upon the strong foundation of Coker wrestling. I look forward to watching the program flourish under his direction."
Nelson returns to Coker after serving as the assistant coach at King University this past season. While at King, Nelson was involved in all phases of the wrestling program including conditioning, strength training, practice planning, and recruiting. His time at King was highlighted by coaching two All-Americans this past season at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Before King, Nelson had a brief stint at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where he was the interim head coach. In the first year of the program, Nelson helped Northeastern finish in the top 25 of the national tournament as three Plainsmen qualified for the national tournament. Northeastern finished with one All-American and three academic All-Americans.
"I first want to thank my parents, Dave and Heidi for dragging me all over the country to wrestle," said Nelson. "I would like to thank my sister Ali for being my biggest fan in my career. I want to thank Dr. Griffin, President Wyatt and the whole Coker Athletics Department for believing in me to do this job. Finally, I want to say it feels great to be back home at Coker, leading the team and school that has done so much for me."
Prior to coaching at Northeastern, Nelson was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Coker College where he helped with the recruitment of student-athletes. While wrestling at Coker, Nelson ranked in the top 10 of NCAA Division II in the 2015-16 season while being selected All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and earning academic All-America honors.
Before arriving at Coker as a student-athlete, Nelson wrestled for the University of Pittsburgh where he was a 2013 Varsity Letterman and an Eastern Wrestling League Freshman All-Academic selection. In high school, Nelson was a two-time PIAA state wrestling place winner at Waynesburg High School, located in Waynesburg, Pa.
As mentioned, Nelson graduated with his Bachelor of Art-History from Coker and also earned his Master of Science in Athletic Administration from Coker.