Nadelhoffer’s Departure Impacts His Players
February 24, 2017
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Millikin Big Blue’s head basketball coach, Matt Nadelhoffer, resigned Thursday, two days after the team’s final loss to Elmhurst College. After finishing this season with a record of 3-22, and not achieving a winning season while at Millikin, Nadelhoffer and the university decided it was time to move on.
With his departure, many questions have been circulating about the future of the Big Blue basketball team and where they will go from here. Though his Millikin career didn’t turn out the way anyone would have liked, there was still an emotional reaction from his players and the campus community.
When asked about Nadelhoffer’s resignation, Tyler Pygon, a sophomore point guard on the team, said, “It’s a very disappointing thing. He played a big role in why I came to Millikin, and he truly was a friend of mine.”
Although Nadelhoffer didn’t prove to be a successful coach while at Millikin, the influence he had on his players seemed to create a positive culture within the team.
“He changed the culture,” Jack Simpson, a sophomore guard, said. “As a team we had a 3.1 GPA this year, which is a drastic difference from what we had in the past. Almost anyone who has played for Nadelhoffer is prepared to graduate from college.”
In the same spectrum of Nadelhoffer’s culture change, players seemed to have an undisputed, positive attitude towards their former head coach.
“We butted heads at times and his methods were a bit disappointing to me, but that doesn’t’ change how I feel about him,” Pygon said.
“We will all miss him. He is a great guy and a role model for not only me but everybody. One of the most personable guys I’ve ever met,” Nathan Lovekamp, a sophomore guard, said.
Leighton Lark, a junior forward on the squad had nothing but good things to say about the coach:
“[Nadelhoffer] gave me a chance to play basketball at the next level. I’m thankful for that. He taught me a lot on and off the court. I don’t agree with some of his tactics but it happened and you can’t do anything about it. Do I think we needed a change? Yes.”
The future of the program is in question for everyone involved, but Dr. Craig White, the Director of Athletics at Millikin, said that the search for a new coach will begin immediately. With this uncertainty, there is a wave of confidence in the administration’s search for the next coach.
“I think we have great people in the head office who know what they’re doing. I think that Dr. [Craig] White will make the right choice for the future of our program,” Pygon said.
“The future of the program is in great hands. Dr. [Craig] White will do a great job picking the coach and we are returning basically everyone,” Simpson said.
“The future is bright. We have nothing to lose, only to gain,” Lovekamp said. “The team will be very motivated and determined to win more games next season.
Outside of his coaching, Nadelhoffer was known as helpful within the campus community. He was a prodigious fundraiser and a great friend of the administration, which shows why his departure is so emotional for his players.
Nadelhoffer certainly shaped the program in positive ways, but his failure to succeed proves that Millikin needs change, and that the future will almost certainly be bright for the Big Blue basketball team, who considers their closeness as a squad key in this transition.
“We believe in ourselves and we believe in each other,” Simpson said. “We are excited for the future and for a fresh start.”