The winningest Aquinas College men’s or women’s basketball coach has announced her retirement, as Linda Nash stepped down from the Saints women’s basketball program. Nash tallied a school-record 378 victories over her illustrious 23-year career, winning more games on the basketball sidelines than any individual in AQ history.
The Aquinas women’s basketball coach since the 1996-97 season, Nash retires after nearly a 700-game coaching career for the Saints. AQ finished .500 or better in 15 of the 23 seasons with Nash at the helm of the program. Overall, Aquinas went 378-307 over Nash’s career, good for a .552 winning percentage over more than two decades.
“From the first moment I arrived at Aquinas, I could sense an energy and an enthusiasm from Linda that helped drive her coaching style over the years,” said Director of Athletics Nick Davidson. “She was a tremendous coach throughout her career and accomplished so much during her time at Aquinas. Linda put together quite a legacy over the past 23 years. We’re very thankful for everything she’s done for Aquinas College and our women’s basketball program.”
Nash led the Saints to seven 20-win seasons and finished in the top-three of the WHAC standings 12 times over the past 23 years. In 2016-17, she became the winningest coach in Aquinas basketball history, earning her 341st victory to surpass Patty Tibaldi, who recorded 340 wins in her 17-season career from 1978-79 to 1995-96.
AQ notched a 26-win campaign in the 2005-06 season, when the Saints won the regular season championship and Nash was tabbed the WHAC Coach of the Year. That was one win shy of the school record of 27 victories in 1984-85. The 26 wins was part of a terrific six-year stretch in which Aquinas won at least 19 games every season from 2004-05 to 2009-10. During that run, the Saints amassed a 133-58 record for an outstanding .696 winning percentage and finished first, second, or third in the WHAC standings every year. From 2004-05 to 2009-10, AQ notched totals of 22, 26, 20, 25, 19, and 21 victories.
Nash retired as the 14th winningest active coach in NAIA Division II. She guided the Saints to six NAIA National Tournament appearances: 1999-00, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2018-19, along with WHAC Tournament championships in 1999-00 and 2007-08.
On her retirement as Aquinas women’s basketball head coach, Nash said:
“As I reflect on my 23 years at Aquinas College, the greatest gift that I received is the relationships that I formed with my players and my staff. There were so many unique personalities that I came in contact with and I feel fortunate to have been a part of their lives during their collegiate years. College is a special time in a young person’s life and to see the growth and maturity in my players from when they came in as freshmen to graduating seniors always warmed my heart. I tried to instill a strong work ethic, a glass is half-full mentality and a pride for Aquinas College. There are so many graduates doing amazing things out there and when all is said and done, I think those individuals all carry a part of the program in their heart. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into being a student-athlete, but the rewards of being a member of a team are priceless.
I would like to thank former athletic director Terry Bocian, who was by my side for most of my coaching career. He was a mentor, but most importantly a friend that I trusted. Patti Tibaldi, a former Aquinas College Hall of Fame coach, had a great impact on my coaching career. Her passion for the game was unmatched. I would also like to thank my long-time assistant coach Ray Fron, who spent 15 years by my side. There are so many assistant coaches that I worked with that gave their all to the program. I would like to thank Brian Morris, Mary Nienhuis, Lindsey Karpowicz, Ashley Huevelman, Corky Nyssen, Carrie Snikkers and Taelor Sanders. If I’m missing someone it must be my memory is slipping because I had great coaches helping me throughout my career.
I’ve always talked to my team about life being a series of chapters. Although my chapter at Aquinas College has come to an end, it will always be a part of me that I will cherish. I’m on to a new entrepreneurial pursuit and beginning a new chapter in my life. Taking the words from Dr. Seuss, ‘Oh the places you will go.’ I’m going to buckle up and enjoy the ride!”
Photo Courtesy Aquinas Athletics