PISCATAWAY, NJ – Jay Nelson has been named head coach of the Rutgers University softball team, Director of Athletics Robert E. Mulcahy III announced today.
Nelson recently completed his 10th season as the top assistant coach on the highly successful staff at Seton Hall University. While at Seton Hall, he helped guide the Pirates to BIG EAST Conference championships in 2004 and 2005, and runner-up finishes in 1999 and 2001. The Pirates advanced to the NCAA Softball Tournament three times in the last six years.
“We are extremely happy that Jay Nelson will take over as head coach of our softball program. He has been a proven winner on both the collegiate and scholastic levels, and has been instrumental in the recent success of the Seton Hall program,” said Mulcahy. “In addition to being an outstanding teacher of the game and an outstanding recruiter, Jay also played a major role in the academic success of the Seton Hall program, as well.”
Nelson takes over at Rutgers for Pat Willis, who retired at the conclusion of the 2006 season after 27-years as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach. Willis posted a 645-565-8 record in that time, and guided the Scarlet Knights’ transition from the Atlantic 10 Conference to the BIG EAST Conference.
Nelson’s responsibilities at Seton Hall included serving as the team’s defensive coordinator, on-field coaching, recruiting, and organizing practice sessions. Nelson was also in charge of the day-to-day and long-term management of many program-related functions, including serving as the liaison in such areas as academic support, facilities, travel, equipment, and strength and conditioning.
Twice during Nelson’s tenure at Seton Hall, the Pirates’ coaching staff, under head coach Ray Vander May, was honored as the NFCA Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year. Nelson, who joined the Seton Hall program in 1996, was promoted to full-time status in 2001.
“This is just a tremendous opportunity for me, to take over the softball program at Rutgers. The BIG EAST is a great conference to compete in, we have outstanding facilities, and a great area to recruit. I can’t wait to get started,” Nelson said. “I’m really excited to be at Rutgers, and am looking forward to re-establishing the winning tradition at New Jersey’s state university.”
Prior to his tenure at Seton Hall, Nelson served as head coach at Mountain Lakes High School for 12 seasons (1985-96), guiding the Lakers to state championships in 1988, 1991 and 1993. He was named New Jersey High School Softball Coach of the Year in 1993, and was named Morris County Area High School Coach of the Year in 1988 and 1991. Nelson was also an assistant coach with the Clifton Charmers, one of the top ASA programs in New Jersey. He guided the team to a fifth-place finish in the 1996 ASA National Tournament.
Nelson, a 1974 graduate of St. Olaf College (MN), played competitively for the New Jersey Windmillers fast pitch team, and during that time participated in five World Tournaments and six National Championships, including a third place finish in 1996. Nelson also serves as president of Starmaker Softball Camps, one of the oldest continuously operated softball camps in New Jersey.
Nelson and his wife Gayle reside in Mount Tabor with their daughter Jessica, a recent graduate of UCLA.