Fernanda Nelson Named FAU Head Volleyball Coach
Former FGCU Assistant Is Fifth Head Coach in Program History
“We are excited to have Fernanda take the reins of our volleyball program,” said Dawson. “We believe her successful playing and coaching career, as well as her passion for the sport of volleyball will propel the program to new heights.”
Nelson becomes the fifth head coach in FAU volleyball history and will look to make her mark as a first-year head coach after serving as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast University for the last four seasons. While at FGCU, Nelson helped the Eagles to a 63-43 overall record (46-17 Atlantic Sun Conference record) and the 2008 regular season A-Sun title. She also assisted head coach Dave Nichols in guiding FGCU to a winning record in its first season of sand volleyball in 2012.
“I am very excited to be joining the FAU family. I would like to thank FAU President Mary Jane Saunders and Melissa Dawson for giving me the opportunity to start my head coaching career,” said Nelson. “I would also like to thank FGCU head volleyball coach Dave Nichols and FGCU for helping me realize my dream of heading my own volleyball program. I’m looking forward to leading a great group of girls, turning the program around and winning championships.”
One of the best setters in the storied history of the Brazilian National Team and named Brazil’s best setter in 1997, Nelson helped FGCU setter Roberta Santos and outside hitter Ana Kokanvic, two of the best players in FGCU history, earn first team All-Atlantic Sun honors in their senior campaign. Additionally, libero Holly Youngquist was a two-time second-team All-Atlantic Sun selection under Nelson’s charge. In four seasons, Nelson has helped coach seven All-Atlantic Sun selections (three first team), four conference Freshmen Team honorees, a unanimous A-Sun Freshman of the Year, an ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 selection (Holly Youngquist; second team) and 27 A-Sun All-Academic selections.
The position at FGCU came after eight years as both a player and a coach at National American University in Sioux City, South Dakota. Nelson arrived at NAU in 2000 and earned second-team NAIA All-American honors as a freshman. She was National Player of the Year as both a sophomore and a senior and led NAU to a national championship as a junior. Nelson ended her career as a three-time All-American selection. She was named to the NAU coaching staff immediately following the conclusion of her playing career. While an assistant, NAU won four straight regional championships and the 2006 NAIA National Championship.
Nelson and her husband Ethan have a daughter, Bella.
Nelson’s Coaching Resume
Assistant Coach, Florida Gulf Coast University (2008-2012)
Assistant Coach, National American University (2004-2008)
What They’re Saying About Nelson
Dave Nichols, FGCU Head Volleyball Coach
“FAU made a great decision with their hire. Not only is Fernanda an amazing coach, she is an even better person. I am so happy for her and her family with this wonderful opportunity to advance her career. We will certainly miss her in the Eagle family, but we are excited for the great opportunities that are ahead of her.”
Todd Lowrey, Texas-Brownsville Athletic Director/Head Volleyball Coach
(Head Volleyball Coach at NAU from 2002-2008)
“FAU is getting not only an outstanding coach but an even better person in Fernanda. She has an incredible passion for the game of volleyball. Fernanda has the unique ability to make everybody around her excited and has a work ethic that never quits. She was one of the best players I have ever had a chance to coach and became great asset to our coaching staff after her playing career. I have no doubt that Fernanda is going to be very successful at FAU.”