Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dee Nash joins LIU as Women’s Rugby head coach

Last updated on Feb 25, 2024

By Alexander Mousa, Editor-in-Chief

From a college student at her first rugby meeting to a head coach at a Division 1 university, Women’s Rugby Head Coach Dee Nash shows us all how hard work pays off. Speaking with The Tide from her office in the back of the Pratt Recreation Center, the hub of many of LIU’s Division 1 sports teams, Nash shared the story of her rugby career and how she came to LIU.

Nash joined LIU as the head coach of Women’s Rugby in January. Though this is not her first time coaching rugby, it is a new chapter with new goals.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and raised in Upstate New York, Nash played soccer, softball and basketball as a kid. However, she wasn’t involved in rugby until her college years at Boston University.

While studying athletic training as an undergraduate student at Boston University, Nash was searching for a sport to play while in college and ended up joining rugby as a club sport.

“[Rugby] was and still is a club sport there, but I was just looking for a sport to play that was going to keep me active and keep me in a community,” Nash said. “I was walking back to my dorm and a few of the people that lived on my floor caught me and said ‘Hey, you going to the rugby meeting?’ I said I wasn’t planning on it, but I went and then went every day after that, so it just kind of stuck.”

After playing rugby during her college years, Nash became a coach only a year after graduating. She began coaching in 2015 at Belmont High School, just outside of Boston, alongside one of her coaches from Boston University. Her coach approached her to ask about joining a new rugby program that they were starting at the high school, and Nash agreed to coach and help build up the program. The program grew during her time there, providing Nash with opportunities to build her coaching skills and be on the other side of a rugby team.

“We started with I think like 13 players and typically you need 15 to field a side,” she said. “Twenty-three is a full roster, but we were able to play our first match later that spring. The next year we were actually able to put a full schedule together, so that was pretty exciting for the program.”

While beginning her coaching career, Nash played rugby professionally. She played as part of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) and served as an assistant coach in two collegiate programs. Nash worked as an assistant coach with the women’s team at Northeastern University from 2017-2019, and later as an assistant coach for the men’s team at the University of Denver in the fall of 2023. LIU Athletics’ website states that at the University of Denver, “she designed and implemented backs-specific training sessions, worked with centers on improving their open field defensive play and running lines in attack and implemented full-team attacking structure with the support of the head coach.” Nash says that during those years, she only looked for assistant-level coaching jobs due to balancing her schedule between coaching and playing.

After completing her playing career, Nash decided that it was time to take the step and apply for head coach positions. 

“I wanted to take the step someday to be a head coach, specifically in a collegiate program, I mean ideally this program – well ideally it became this program – but a program like this, a D1 varsity program that’s fully supported by the school,” Nash said. “A friend actually sent me this job posting and I was on the job search anyway, so I just like ‘this would be ideal’ … I ended up getting the call from Director of Athletics Ryan Kelly to interview, and then after a second interview, I ended up here.”

After taking the job, Nash came to LIU just after the new year to lead the women’s rugby team. She says she received a warm welcome from the team and is excited to work with them.

“I’ve received a very warm welcome since I’ve gotten here really, or even before,” Nash said. “I had a Zoom call with the players right after we were able to announce the hiring, and that was really good… Since I’ve been here, they’ve all been amazing. They’re a really good group, really receptive to everything. When it comes to feedback or trying new things or just working hard, this group will do it, so I’m really happy about that.”

Nash also says that she has received support from the staff at LIU. From Director Kelly to Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance Eric Sickles, Assistant Athletic Director for Business Operations Matt Vautrin, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations Dylan Brown and many more, Nash stated that she feels welcomed and supported by the community at LIU.

Courtesy of LIU Women’s Rugby

Nash is kicking off her tenure at LIU with a set of goals to support the talent that is on the team, while also attracting new players.

 “Bigger picture-wise, we’re looking to kind of rebuild the roster a little bit, get above that 23 mark because that’s the bare minimum you need to be able to play this upcoming fall,” she said. “So our goals are getting our numbers up and then just providing a little bit more stability. So that means the players and I that are here now getting ourselves to a baseline that we’re happy with and able to build off of going into the fall, and then kind of outside of the players that are here now, making sure that we’re recruiting really strongly, trying to bring in as many walk-ons as we can because our goal is to get to 30 players by the fall. Our bigger goal for the fall: Being able to complete our competitive season, which we haven’t been able to do yet as a rugby program, so that’s a big one for us.”

Nash is eager to grow the team at LIU and highlight the athletic abilities and flair that this team holds. She says that she appreciates coaching because it enables her to provide others with opportunities to grow, and see their growth in real time.

“It is really cool to just watch the learning curve the whole way through,” Nash stated. “Whether people are starting from being a phenomenal athlete and being able to put all the pieces together from the start and just being able to add like small percentages to that to help them get better, or whether they’re brand new players and watching that progression, it’s just really gratifying and I think it’s a really cool thing to be able to be involved in. And also, just watching them grow as human beings. There are a lot of challenging moments in rugby specifically, whether they be small things or big things, so watching people tackle those moments and seeing how they grow from them is a really cool thing to see to be honest – to see and to be involved in.”

Nash finished off by speaking about her goal for growing the team.

“If anyone’s interested in playing, they’re more than welcome to reach out to me,” Nash said. “We are having a Rugby Skills with Friends Day this Sunday. It’s actually led by our captains and everybody’s going to bring a friend. Ideally, it’s someone that would be interested in playing. If they couldn’t find someone that would be interested in playing it might just actually literally be a friend, that’s okay too. As much support as we can get for the program is great and as many people as we can get to understand rugby is great as well.”

The Rugby Skills with Friends Day will be held on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the turf in the Pratt Recreation Center. Interested students can reach out to Coach Nash at Coach Nash is excited to grow the rugby team at LIU and work with students who want to join the team.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *