After a national search, York University Athletics and Recreation has announced Jennifer Neilson as head coach for the Lions women’s volleyball program and Nathan Groenveld as head coach for the Lions men’s volleyball program.
After wrapping up an outstanding playing career in 2015, Neilson has most recently been a coach within the Ontario Volleyball Association (OVA). She becomes the ninth head coach in the Lions women’s volleyball program history.
Neilson began coaching at an elite level while attending the University of Toronto, as she spent time as an assistant coach with Team BC’s 16-under women’s team in 2013 and became an assistant coach with the Team Ontario 18-under team in 2014. After graduating from U of T with a bachelor of kinesiology in 2015, she became an assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team at the University of Windsor while she completed her master’s in human kinetics. Most recently she’s been a head coach with the Halton Region Volleyball Club, Team Ontario’s 16-under women’s team, and worked with the OVA as high performance coordinator and apprentice coach.
“Jennifer has done a tremendous job in a number of different coaching roles and we are excited for her to become the leader of the women’s volleyball program,” said Jennifer Myers, director of Athletics and Recreation at York. “She is a highly motivated and driven coach who understands the demands of being a student-athlete and the commitment to academics in the classroom. I have no doubt she has the skills and vision to continue the great tradition of women’s volleyball at York and lead our team to the top of the standings. I am thrilled to welcome Jennifer to the Lions family and look forward to seeing the team under her leadership this season and for many more to come.”
Neilson is also well-rounded at the administrative level, having developed and managed programming for the OVA’s high performance plan and lead their high performance athlete identification process.
“I am humbled, grateful, and excited to be appointed as the head coach of the women’s volleyball program at York University,” said Neilson. “I am thrilled for the opportunity that lies ahead and look forward to continuing to build on the legacy of success embedded in the York University women’s volleyball program, and athletics at large. I can’t wait to start working within the York athletics mission to promote excellence and foster a lifelong great student-athlete experience.
Neilson replaces John May as head coach after two years with the team and will officially start her role on July 30. May will continue his with the Lions in a transitionary role and working with the Athletics and Recreation Department on other projects. Neilson’s first game behind the Lions bench will be on Saturday, Oct. 27 when the Lions kick off their season on the road against the Nipissing Lakers.
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Groenveld, a former member of Canada’s senior national team, becomes the fourth head coach in the Lions men’s volleyball program history.
After finishing his playing career in 2010, Groenveld was named head coach of the men’s volleyball program at Niagara College prior to the 2010-11 season. In eight years with the Knights, he led the team to an overall record of 96-62, including 74-35 in his last six years with the program. His run as head coach was highlighted by an OCAA gold medal in 2014-15, followed by a bronze medal at the CCAA national championships the same year. The bronze medal at nationals was the first team medal at a national championship in school history.
Groenveld has also remained active at the national and provincial level, serving in a number of roles since 2014, including lead coach of the youth national team east selection camp and assistant coach of the national B team.
“Nathan is one of the top volleyball coaches in the country and brings a wealth of experience and an outstanding track record to York,” said Jennifer Myers, director of Athletics and Recreation at York. “Throughout his career he’s demonstrated the type of team-building and leadership skills we value at York. I am confident that Nathan will be a tremendous addition to our Athletics and Recreation Department and will be a strong leader for the next generation of Lions athletes. On behalf of everyone at York we are thrilled to welcome Nathan to the Lions family.”
In addition to coaching roles, Groenveld’s volleyball resume includes stints as a member of Volleyball Canada’s national high performance selection committee and as Technical Director for the Niagara region Volleyball Canada Centre of Excellence.
Groenveld took over coaching duties on July 4.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Lions men’s volleyball program and I want to thank the administration here for this incredible opportunity,” said Groenveld. “I am excited to join the Lions family and look forward to helping build on the school’s rich history of men’s volleyball. This is a special university that values the complete student-athlete experience, which is something that aligns with my coaching philosophy very strongly. I cannot wait to get started and begin working with this incredible group of young men.”
Groenveld will make his debut behind the Lions bench when the team begins the 2018-19 season in October.
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