Santa Fe College hires Cheronis as volleyball coach

Nick Cheronis leaves St. Francis after leading the Wolves to consecutive state tournaments to become Santa Fe College's first women's volleyball coach.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/file
Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 7:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 7:36 p.m.

Nick Cheronis, a former longtime volleyball assistant at UF who led St. Francis to consecutive state tournaments, agreed Wednesday to become Santa Fe College's first women's volleyball coach.

Cheronis, who has been coach at St. Francis for three seasons, led the Wolves to 54 wins his last two seasons, losing in the Class 3A finals in 2012 to Orlando First Academy and state champion Miami Westminster in the state semifinals this past season.

When an opportunity arose to get back into college coaching by starting up the Saints' volleyball program, Cheronis decided to take on the challenge.

“I'd first like to thank athletic director Jim Keites, President Jackson Sasser, Vice President Naima Brown, the entire search committee and all those who have given me this terrific opportunity to start this program,” said Cheronis, who brings 32 years of coaching experience, including 18 with Mary Wise at UF from 1992 until 2009. “I'm humbled and honored to be a part of the Santa Fe family.”

Santa Fe announced in June it would begin competition in women's volleyball during the 2014-2015 season, joining the Mid-Florida Conference and allowing 12 scholarships per season.

“Excellence in every aspect of the college is our expectation,” Sasser said. “Hiring coach Cheronis ensures women's volleyball will meet this standard.”

With Cheronis starting the program, Keites believes it brings the Saints instant credibility in the sport.

“Nick Cheronis possesses a wealth of knowledge of the game and has extensive experience at the highest level of collegiate volleyball,” Keites said. “The pool of candidates was very deep and very talented, but in the end I think we were able to get the right person to set the foundation for this program.”

Cheronis was elevated to associate head coach at UF in 1996, a position he held until departing after the 2009 season. During his tenure with the Gators, they went 568-62 and won the regular-season Southeastern Conference titles 17 straight years from 1992-2008 and appeared in six NCAA Final Fours.

“I can't imagine a better person to start the program at Santa Fe,” Wise said. “He's been around volleyball in this community for years. He started the highly successful club program in Gainesville and has had his hands on some of the greatest volleyball played in the area.”

Cheronis, who is co-director along with Stephanie Wyatt at Vision Volleyball in Gainesville, also has recently been the head coach of the Florida Wave (Premier Volleyball League) and an assistant coach for the USA Girls Youth National Team, which last summer won its first world championship volleyball medal ever when it took silver to China in the FIVB World Championships in Thailand.

Santa Fe joins a recent influx of schools adding volleyball. The College of Central Florida in Ocala added a team in 2011, winning the Mid-Florida Conference title every season since and playing in the national tournament all three seasons. Daytona State College started its program this fall.

The Mid-Florida Conference, besides Central Florida and Daytona, will include Florida State College of Jacksonville, St. Johns River State College in Palatka and Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg.

“This program has been wildly anticipated by the Gainesville community, so that make this opportunity even more appealing because there will be so much initial support from the local high schools and clubs,” said Cheronis, who officially begins on Jan. 1.

According to St. Francis athletic director David Fallo, Cheronis has offered to help find a replacement for the Wolves program.

The addition of volleyball gives Santa Fe College five sports programs, including men's basketball and baseball, women's basketball and fastpitch softball.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top