Moving on, moving up

Nelson takes over Fike girls basketball post; Frazier now Lady Warriors soccer head coach

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They guided the Hunt High varsity girls soccer team to a 25-16-4 record over two seasons.

Now Jeff Nelson and Richard Frazier are taking head coaching positions at two vastly different shades of Wilson County blue.

Nelson, who was hired as Hunt’s head girls soccer coach before the 2016 season, has opted to move onto Fike High to take over the varsity girls basketball post vacated by Kim Howard. Frazier, the executive director of the Wilson Youth Soccer Association who joined the Hunt staff upon Nelson’s arrival, will now guide the Lady Warriors into the future.

The opportunity to teach and coach at Fike appealed to Nelson, who will join his wife, Laura, as a teacher at the school. A full-time position at Hunt would not have been forthcoming for Nelson, who spent five years as Hunt’s junior varsity girls basketball coach before moving over to girls soccer. One of his teams finished with an undefeated record.

“I’ve been hearing good things about the players that I’m going to have this year,” Nelson said in a telephone interview Thursday. “Of course, that makes any coaching job easier and more exciting when you hear you’ve got great players you’re going to be coaching. It’s definitely going to be a change going from one school to another. But I’m looking forward to it. Since I’ve been there, Coach (athletic director Toni) Varacchi has been a lot of help. Any time I needed anything, she’s answered my questions through text message.”

Certainly, any transition of schools will result in a change of some sorts. But making the jump to an archrival? Nelson assured his royal blue has been put away as a senior-laden roster of Jada Lee and Aniya Thigpen is expected to pace his first Fike edition. Teresa Kent and Mason Blake are other possible senior returnees.

“I’ve bought some clothes!” Nelson said. “It’s not so bad. I’ve been kind of jokingly told, let’s leave the royal blue at home. I told them that I’ve already packed it up and put it in my box. I’ve gone and gotten some Fike stuff. My wife is also a teacher there, so we will be a family over there. It’s been a unique change, but it’s a change that I’m looking forward to. I’ve been excited about it for some time now that I knew I was going to do it."

Nelson said that he was glad Hunt and athletic director Jon Smith chose Frazier as the program’s next coach.

Frazier expects to take over a Lady Warriors program in a rebuilding phase after Hunt graduated nine seniors and seven starters, including all-state goalkeeper and UNC Asheville signee Bryson Lee.

“I’m just happy to have the opportunity,” Frazier said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with the girls for the last several years, and feel like we started to build a good program through Coach Nelson. I just look forward to continuing that tradition.”

Accepting the Hunt head coaching job was made easier by the fact that Frazier’s daughter, Eynde, is a junior on the Western Carolina women’s soccer team. Thus, his free time will be increased once the former Hunt all-state performer completes her time in Cullowhee.

“That will be over in a year and a half,” Frazier said. “I enjoy working with them and teaching the game of soccer and feel like I can make a difference with the program there at Hunt.”

For Frazier, who fashions himself as a technical coach more than a tactical mind, success will be measured by placing Hunt amongst the solid soccer programs in North Carolina.

“I would like for Hunt to be known as a solid program throughout the state,” Frazier said. “Very well represented and very mannerable, but very hard nosed and a very tough opponent. And I think that I would like to instill hard work and commitment into the young ladies. That’s something that they could not only use in soccer, but use in life.”

jlewis@wilsontimes.com | 265-7807 | Twitter: @JimmyLewisWT