Former Pine River all-stater coaching at Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — Chelsea Nelson never made it a secret over her desire to be a varsity volleyball coach.

She’s secured the opportunity and it’s with the Big Rapids Cardinals.

The former Pine River three-sport standout was having open gyms at BRHS this week in getting ready for the fall season.

Nelson will be at Ferris State University this fall, focusing on finishing her minor in Spanish, and will start nursing school at FSU after the Christmas holidays. She is living in Canadian Lakes.

Nelson replaces Tina LaCross, who resigned after leading Big Rapids to a district title last season.

I saw the ad in the paper and applied,” Nelson said. “I’ve been officiating volleyball and basketball the past four years. I figured it was time for a change. I’ve always wanted to coach.”

Nelson was an assistant to Pine River coach Jana Dennis for two years. It’s her first head coaching job.

At Pine River, Nelson played varsity volleyball 3 1/2 seasons and was a setter. The Bucks advanced to the state semifinals in Nelson’s junior season. She played two varsity seasons of basketball and three of softball.

She was all-state and all-conference in volleyball

“Volleyball was my sport,” Nelson said.

The first open gym was on Tuesday, but Nelson noted that she’s restricted in her coaching options by the MHSAA during the summer. Later this summer, she has set up a youth camp on June 27-29. There will be a team camp on July 11-12, which she indicated would be conducted by Western Michigan University. Nelson also is hoping to have some scrimmages.

“They’ve won districts the last few years and have been knocked out in regionals,” she said. “I hope to get them past regionals. They’ve been having to play Cadillac, which is a good team.”

Pine River is in Division 3 for the postseason while Big Rapids is Division 2. Nelson is spending the summer months getting to know her personnel with Cardinal volleyball.

Practices will start on Aug. 10 and Big Rapids’ first matches will be on Aug. 20.

“My big thing is respect, for (players) to respect me, respect one another, respect parents and respect the officials,” Nelson said. “That’s my big emphasis. Through respect, you gain the comaraderies I would like to have on a team.”