Lakeland hires Aaron Nester as New Head Coach

Lakeland College has named Aaron Nester as its new head women’s basketball coach, Lakeland Interim Director of Athletics April Arvan announced Tuesday.

Nester comes to Lakeland with 13 years of coaching experience at the NCAA Division III level, including three years as the head coach at Oglethorpe (Ga.) University. This past season he was the top assistant coach at Central College in Pella, Iowa. He replaces Lindsey Vande Hoef, who recently left Lakeland after four years to take the head job at Iowa Central Community College.

“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Nester to Lakeland College and are excited for his leadership in our women’s basketball program,” said Arvan. “He has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge of our conference and within the NCAA. More importantly, he brings to Lakeland the same passion for the overall development of our current and future student athletes as our previous leadership, and his drive for competitive success will add a new enthusiasm to the program moving forward.”

Nester has 10 years as an assistant coach and is experienced in helping rebuild Division III women’s basketball programs. Nester’s year at Central marked a return to the Midwest for this Indianapolis, Ind., native and a return to the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, as he was an assistant at Wartburg (Iowa) College from 2006-11. During his five seasons at Wartburg, the Knights improved from 7-18 in 2005-06 to 21-5 in 2010-11.

He began his coaching career at Rockford University, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. During his tenure at Rockford, he was part of the most successful four-year stretch in school history as the women’s squad won 76 games and three conference titles and participated in three Division III tournaments.

“I would like to thank the Lakeland community, President Dan Eck and April Arvan for giving me this opportunity,” said Nester. “I believe Lakeland is a special place and the women’s basketball program has strong tradition within the competitive Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. We have an opportunity to do something special here and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Nester also has served as a member of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship Committee since 2011. He was the South Region chair from 2011-14 and has served as West Region chair since the spring of 2014.

“We will be a program that represents Lakeland in a positive manner on and off the floor,” said Nester. “We will be a program that works every day to be our best. We will be a program that does it the right way.

“Our players and coaching staff look forward to growing together and competing at a high level within the NACC. This conference has great institutions and quality coaches. We look forward to the challenge that is ahead of us.”
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