Grain Valley soccer's Tyler Nichol says it's 'right time' to step down from coaching
When Tyler Nichol was playing for Mike Palermo's Blue Springs High School soccer team 15 years ago, Grain Valley was merely a blip on the radar screen.
"I lived in Blue Springs, went to Blue Springs High School, played for Coach Palermo and knew that one day I was going to come back to my alma mater and coach," Nichol said.
Well, that plan never materialized as Nichol interviewed for a job at Grain Valley High School, who had become a force in Eastern Jackson County soccer, and found a new home.
Nichol's legacy at Grain Valley High School will far outlive the past seven years as he coached the Eagles boys and girls soccer teams, turning them into state powers.
Nichol, who announced his resignation following a 22-3-1 girls season that ended with a 5-2 loss to Fort Zumwalt South in the Class 3 state championship game, leaves Grain Valley with a combined record of 202-77-6 with the boys and girls teams.
Nichol led this year's girls team to their greatest season ever, including the first state final four appearance, and he led the boys team to a pair of final four berths, with a third-place state finish in 2015 and a fourth-place finish in 2016.
What's next for Coach Nichol?
He is leaving Grain Valley to pursue a career in the private sector, but said, "Who knows, one day I might find my way back to coaching."
And that path might lead to Grain Valley, where he and his wife Amanda, a librarian at Stoney Point Elementary School, and his two children, 4-year-old Jackson and 2-year-old Eleanor, live in the family's new home.
"I'm not going to say I'll never coach again, but right now I am excited about this new opportunity in the private sector, which really came out of nowhere," said Nichol, who turned the boys program over to assistant coach Brett Lewis last season.
Lewis will now replace his longtime friend as the girls head coach.
"People ask me if it's hit me that I'm leaving coaching," Nichol said. "And I tell them, I don't think it will really hit me until the girls start practicing and playing next season. I was with the boys seven years and have been with the girls the past six years and it has been a great time in my life.
"Turning the girls program over to Brett makes it easier, much like turning the boys program over to him last year. This is the right time to make this decision. The school is placing both programs into the hands of a great coach, and I am excited to see what happens with the girls program next season."
Nichol said this 2021 girls season was special for so many reasons.
"We weren't able to play last year because of COVID, so just being able to return and play makes this season special," Nichol said. "And I couldn't ask for a better team to finish my career with. These young ladies are so special and I know they are going to grow up and become great leaders in their communities. I could not have left Grain Valley with a better group of young ladies."