January 31, 2014 Updated: January 31, 2014 at 5:51 pm
Just days after hiring a new football coach, Rampart announced Friday it had found its next volleyball coach.
The Rams turned to a familiar face to fill the role vacated by Nancy Pellow, hiring Nikki Kinzer — the 2008 Gazette Big School Player of the Year.
As a senior at Rampart in 2008, Kinzer led the Rams to a third-place finish at the 5A state tournament and was named first team all-state, all-area and all-Colorado Springs Metro League.
"Going back to Rampart almost seems surreal," Kinzer said. "I spent some of the best years of my life in that gym. I hope to create a similar, successful experience for current and future players and take this program to a new level."
Rampart athletic director Andy Parks had a busy week, hiring two coaches. He says picking Kinzer was an easy decision.
"Once we talked to her, the process was over and we knew what we had," Parks said. "We're thrilled she wanted to come back to Rampart and lead our volleyball team, and we're excited for the program."
After her time at Rampart, Kinzer played a season at the University of Colorado — starting in all 26 matches as a freshman — before transferring to UCCS for three seasons. Her senior year at UCCS, she was selected as a third-team all-American — the first volleyball player in the school's history to earn all-American honors.
Kinzer inherits a team that went 21-6 in 2013 and qualified for the 5A state tournament. The Rams are likely to return 12 of 15 players in 2014.
"My previous success at Rampart is a reflection of the coaching and support I received there," Kinzer said. "I look forward to returning as a coach and acting as a similar mentor to this extremely talented group of girls."
Parks said having someone at the helm who has competed in the state tournament and played Division-I volleyball is an advantage for the Rams.
"She knows the route our players need to take to get where we want to go, and the players are very excited," Parks said. "To put someone in front of the girls who has accomplished all she has at Rampart, and then at the college level, is exciting for everyone."
Kinzer says it feels like going home.
"My experience as a student athlete at Rampart was nothing short of memorable, and I can't wait to see what this next chapter holds," she said.