TuscaloosaUniversity of Alabama head soccer coach Don Staley announced today that former Tide player and coach Nikki Smith has been named the assistant coach effective immediately. Smith replaces Tide assistant Katie Barnes, who returned to her hometown of Cincinnati to coach the Warren County soccer club.
“We're extremely excited about welcoming back this proud alumnus to the Capstone” Staley said. “Nikki brings together everything I was looking for in an assistant coach to help lead our program back to the top of the SEC. Her coaching success at Birmingham Southern, enthusiasm, knowledge of the college game, and familiarity with myself and the Crimson Tide program will benefit our players tremendously.”
Smith rejoins her alma mater after serving the previous four seasons at Birmingham Southern College, most recently as the interim head coach in 2006. While at Birmingham Southern, Smith helped the Panthers to their first ever Big South Conference Tournament appearance in 2003 and their first ever Big South championship in 2004. She coached 20 All-Big South players, including the 2004 Big South Freshman of the Year, and eight Big South All-Tournament selections, including the 2004 MVP.
“I am very excited about returning to my alma mater.” Smith said. “I have great respect, both as a friend and colleague, for Coach Staley. I am looking forward to being at the University of Alabama for many years to come and hope to make a big impact to the Alabama soccer program with my experience, knowledge and excitement for the game.”
As a standout player for the Tide from 1994-97, Smith, then Nikki Kubiszyn, helped build the Alabama soccer program to national prominence and to the top of the Southeastern Conference. While at the Capstone, Smith led the Tide to SEC western division titles in 1995 and 1997. The standout midfielder and sweeper was selected to the All-SEC Tournament team in 1994, was the team’s defensive MVP for three consecutive years from 1995-97 and was the 1997 team captain.
After her playing career ended with the Tide, Coach Don Staley tabbed her to become one of his assistants for the 2000 season.
“This University has always had a special place in my heart” Smith said. “It’s a family atmosphere and an exciting place to be, especially with all the new facility developments. I have missed being away from the Southeastern Conference and that level of competition.”
The Crimson Tide will open the spring season at the Alabama Soccer Complex on February 24th against Shelton State at 2:00 and Alabama A&M at 7:00.