As a ball boy during Bob Hamilton’s waning days as Aggie coach, Kevin Nosek got a taste of Old School UC Davis.
As a Blue Devil, the versatile Nosek was a key ingredient on Ralph Villanueva’s Sac-Joaquin Section championship Davis High team.
Later — playing for Bob Williams’ 1998 Division-II national championship UCD squad — Nosek earned a doctorate in chemistry (on-the-court chemistry, that is).
Nosek went on to assist Aggie coaches Brian Vogel and Gary Stewart. A three-year stint as Menlo College head coach was sandwiched between the two Aggie regimes.
Nosek has seen it all — and as the homegrown hardcourt hero enters his 13th year as an assistant in the Aggie program, The Enterprise took some time to look back on the career of Kevin Nosek — and chat with his current boss Jim Les about what the local man means to the scope of Aggie Pride.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said Les, now three years at the UCD helm. “First and foremost, his having been a student-athlete here is huge for our program and benefits our current players because he’s walked in this environment and played in this environment.”
From 1996 to 1999, Nosek was a take-no-prisoners swingman for the Aggies. He was part of that ’98 title-winning squad; a team that offered no scholarships, yet went on to put up that national championship banner in The Pavilion.
“Saturday, Dec. 2 (1997), we beat Cal State Bakersfield. They were No. 1 at the time,” Nosek recalled. “There was something deep inside. This team was committed. There was a feeling throughout that we were destined.”
A week later, Nosek’s grandmother died. Kevin’s parents were putting her business in order and dad Stan, then a UCD administrator, was trying to organize family members to take care of her estate.
“Dad called and wanted help at the house later in the year. I told him I couldn’t make it the day he suggested,” Nosek continued. “I told him: ‘We’ll be in the national championship game that day.’ Dad thought I was crazy.”
Upon graduation, Nosek assisted Fogel (Williams had moved on to UC Santa Barbara, where he still coaches). The Aggies went 67-23 under Fogel and the accomplishment earned Nosek a head-coaching post at Menlo College.
Nosek took the Oaks from 4-22 to 17-11 in three seasons before Stewart lured him back to UCD. Les was happy to see him on staff when he replaced Stewart in 2011.
“Kevin has been a head coach. It’s always great to have people on your staff who have been a head coach because they have a good perspective for what (I’m) going through,” Les offered. “He’s walked in the shoes that you’ve walked in and he gives great perspective from his time of being a head coach.”
From high school on, everyone around Nosek knew he would coach someday.
As a three-sport standout at Davis High, Nosek got a reputation as “Coach” Kevin.
“He was a coach on the court. A true leader,” DHS Hall of Fame inductee Villanueva said of Nosek. “There was no question in my mind he would succeed at the next level — as both a player and a coach.”
Nosek will never forget Villanueva: “Coach V has been a wonderful mentor in my life. He’s a great motivator and always believed in me and the team. I almost don’t have words to say what it is he brought into my life.
“Consistency. Confidence. A happiness about the game of basketball. I think that’s what you want from a basketball coach, especially at the youth level. You want your coach to make whatever sport it is fun and exciting and competitive for you. Ralph did that.”
And now Nosek does …
Aggie youth camps begin Monday — and Nosek and Les want the kids attending to learn the game, certainly, but they always want the campgoers to enjoy the experience.
“Above anything, our camp teaches how to be a teammate. We think that’s very important, especially today,” Nosek said. “As a kid, you watch all the professional sports out there and you don’t see a whole lot of teamwork. I think our camp is about … being a good teammate.”
(The Aggie men’s program presents a morning four-day youth camp for kids ages 4-13 and an afternoon two-day clinic for shooters from seventh to 12th grades. Each features UCD coaches and players.)
In the gym, Nosek is responsible for development of the Aggie post players, but Les says he looks to his assistant for decision-making on team style of play, who plays when and a lion’s share of the recruiting.
“It’s been great because he’s been able to shoulder a great amount of the responsibility,” Les continued. “Knowing that (things) are going to be done in a very efficient manner … that’s a huge relief for a head coach.”
Nosek and his wife Nicole have two children: Maya, 4, and Grace, 10 months. His parents, Veronica (Ronnie) and Stan, are retired. Stan just finished a stint as a Cal Poly administrator after a long career at UCD.
Brother Brian — Dr. Brian Nosek, if you will — is a psychology professor on faculty at the University of Virginia and sister Karen works at Turkovich Winery in Winters.
“Kevin really has a good understanding of the university and what it takes to be successful,” Les concluded.
And Nosek couldn’t be happier:
“It’s a good group,” said Nosek, excited that season-crimping injuries are behind players like J.T. Adenrele and Josh Ritchart and that 2014-15 represents a fresh start.
Nosek is impressed with Les’ work ethic and sees another leap forward this season.
“Les loves the game. He’s on the floor, working with the guys, more than any head coach I’ve ever been around or heard of.
“I think coach Les’ sideline intensity is exciting. I think the crowds embrace that. This is a team that is continuing to develop and play hard.”
With Nosek on the bench, maybe some of that championship magic finally rubs off.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.