Kat Niksto takes over Santa Barbara City College women’s volleyball program

Kat Niksto has coached NCAA Div. 1, club volleyball and was most recently an assistant coach for the Laguna Blanca girls and boys teams.
Kat Niksto has coached NCAA Div. 1, club volleyball and was most recently an assistant coach for the Laguna Blanca girls and boys teams.

SANTA BARBARA - Kat Niksto has been selected as the new women's volleyball coach at SBCC. She replaces Ed Gover, who retired after an outstanding 28-year career that featured 378 wins and 11 WSC North titles.

She's lived in Santa Barbara for most of her life, playing volleyball at Dos Pueblos High and enjoying a stellar career as an outside hitter at Pomona-Pitzer, where she was two-time All-Conference and All-Western Region. She was Pomona-Pitzer's female Athlete of the Year in her senior season.

Niksto earned a double BA in Psychology and Art from Pomona-Pitzer, then coached NCAA Division 1 volleyball at Temple University as the graduate assistant/director of operations for three years while getting her Master's of Education in Sports and Recreation Administration.

"We're excited that Coach Niksto is joining our Vaqueros family," said athletic director Rocco Constantino. "She brings a lot of enthusiasm and technical knowledge to the position. Ed Gover built SBCC volleyball into a successful and respected program and we believe Coach Niksto can continue that tradition."

She spent 10 years as a club coach and executive for the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club, leaving in October of 2018 to become the head coach of UCSB's nationally ranked women's club team.

"I like the team aspect of volleyball," Niksto stated. "You can have one good player but if everyone else isn't very good, they're easy to beat. It's really a sport where you need a lot of balance and teamwork.

"My teams work the best when the girls play more for each other than for me. My role is to be there more as guidance as a teacher and coach. I don't feel like you can lead in an authoritarian manner. It's more of 'Here's my experience and my knowledge' and let's find what works best for this team. Let's get everyone to buy in and do it for each other."

Niksto has also served as assistant coach on the boys and girls volleyball teams at Laguna Blanca and was head coach for the boys middle school program. She was an assistant under Jason Donnelly on the 2015 Owls' girls team that won a CIF championship.

Niksto and her husband Jake have two young sons – EJ (8) and Quincy (5). She plans to continue helping out with the Laguna boys volleyball team.

"Jason has been my hugest mentor," said Niksto. "He was my club coach at SBVC when we were much younger. Then our paths intersected again in 2012 when we started coaching together. I think he's the best coach in town, hands down.

"It's been great working with coaches like Ed (Gover) and Jason and the coaches at Temple. Over the years, you try to take what works for you from each of their philosophies."

How does she feel about being the new Vaquero head coach?

"I'm excited," she said. "Obviously there's big shoes to fill. It makes me feel a lot better that Ed and I have a really good relationship. He has been nothing but supportive and he really wants the program to continue to succeed and do well. It's great to know that he's always there to answer my endless amount of questions about how to figure out everything in the community college world.

"I want to hit the ground running and we've already started recruiting with six players coming in. My goal is not to have any letdown. We want players who are committed and willing to work hard. Then when I'm recruiting next year, we'll have players who've had a positive experience and it will just continue to build."

(Dave Loveton, SBCC Athletics)