Simpson coaches find their love connection

by Sara Sonderman

It often takes an unfortunate experience for something fortunate to happen. For Nicci (Nelson) Whalen it took tearing her anterior cruciate ligament for her to meet her husband Jeremy.

Both Jeremy and Nicci are alumni of Simpson and are now full time staff members in the athletic department for Simpson College.

“I tore my ACL playing basketball in January of my junior year so I was spending a lot of time in the training room doing rehab,” Nicci said. “Jeremy was in wrestling at the time so he was in there a lot, so that’s how we got to know each other.”

Nicci admits that her first impression of Jeremy was not a good one. “I knew he was a good athlete and all but I could never see myself dating him,” Nicci said.

The following year both of them lived in Hamilton apartments and began dating at that point.

The path that each of them took to Simpson is similar in a number of ways. Jeremy began his athletic career at Waldorf College before transferring to Simpson his sophomore year.

“I went to Waldorf my first year to decide which sport to play [football or wrestling], but I just couldn’t give either up,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy, originally from Indianola, then ventured back to Simpson where he earned All-American honors in both football and wrestling. Nicci is originally from Hodrege, Nebraska and came to Simpson her first two years but then decided she wanted to try a larger school so she transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Nicci started to miss her friends at Simpson so she transferred back for the second semester. During her basketball career with the Storm she was a two-year captain of the team.

They were married at Smith Chapel on campus in May 2001.

“Even though I am from Nebraska, all of our friends were here and since we both enjoyed Simpson so much it just felt like the right thing to do,” Nicci said of having her wedding on Simpson’s campus.

With Jeremy being an assistant coach for both the football and wrestling teams and Nicci being an athletic trainer and the assistant women’s basketball coach, they both must compromise in their marriage because of the number of hours each of them put in.

“I sacrifice my hobby time to make sure we have some time together,” Jeremy said with a smile.

An average day for the Whalen’s is a 10-14 hour day. Both of them are also responsible for recruiting along with their other coaching duties.

“Eventually if we ever want to have a family we can’t live the lifestyle we do now,” Nicci said. “Coaching is Jeremy’s life and I really enjoy the teaching I am doing so we will have to figure things out when that time comes.”