BRISTOL, Tenn. – Al Nida, legendary basketball coach and Athletic Director at King University (then King College) among other places, passed away on July 3, 2016. Nida remains the all-time wins leader in King history in both men's and women's basketball and is a member of the King Athletic Hall of Fame.
Born Lawrence Allen "Al" Nida on December 10, 1929 in Spencer, W.Va., Nida had a stellar athletic career at the West Virginia Institute of Technology. Following graduation, he started his coaching career at St. Albans High School in West Virginia in 1952 before joining the staff at King in 1966 when he took over the men's basketball program. In his 45 years of coaching, Nida accounted for more than 700 wins at the high school and collegiate levels.
He led the Tornado men's basketball program for 17 years (1967-83) and won 245 games, a mark that is still atop the King record books. In those 17 years his teams posted a .603 winning percentage. The Tornado won their first conference title in a very tough Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC) in 1969. He later led King to another VSAC title in 1979.
Nida took over the women's program in 1985, and in his third season led King to the 1988 National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national championship. He then followed that with two more NCCAA national championships in 1989 and 1990. In all, Nida spent eight seasons at the helm of the women's basketball program, amassing 182 wins, a mark that still ranks first in the King record books. The Tornado only lost 44 games in those eight years, only once falling at least 10 times in one year, which was his first season. He ended his career with a winning percentage of .805 coaching the Tornado women.
Along with coaching both men's and women's basketball, Nida was also the athletic director at King and was an integral part of the growth of the athletic department as they added sports throughout his tenure.
Along with the King Athletic Hall of Fame, Nida is a member of the West Virginia Tech Hall of Fame, West Virginia Sports Writers Hall of Fame, Northeast Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the St. Albans High School Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2015, King renamed their Male Athlete of the Year award to the Al Nida Male Athlete of the Year to honor the Hall of Fame coach.
There will be a visitation on Friday night from 6-8 p.m. at the Weaver Funeral Home in Bristol and the service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at the King University Chapel.
"Coach Nida made the program more than just basketball. He was concerned with our personal development, our careers, and who we were as individuals. He left a lasting impression on every student he coached and his legacy lives on, not only through his former players but through the athletic programs at King today."
Warren Payne, King basketball player, class of '69 and current Chairman of the Board of Trustees
"As a former player for Coach Nida I knew he was an outstanding basketball coach. It was the years later when I became a coach that I realized how knowledgeable he was about the game and coaching. As I listened to big time coaches speak at clinics, it was obvious Coach was way ahead of his time."
Dale Burns, King basketball player, class of '69
"Al Nida was the athletic director and had just taken over the women's basketball program when I came to coach the women's volleyball team in 1985. Al left a positive impact on hundreds of players through the years. He was a demanding coach but the players loved and respected him. He was an excellent teacher of the game and knew how to get the best of his players. He was obviously a smart coach as evidenced by his national championships. He also had a great sense of humor- kept all of his colleagues laughing!"
Susie Toomey, King Athletic Hall of Fame women's volleyball coach
"When I look back on my time at King, the one person that had the most influence on me was Coach Nida. I was one of the first ladies he recruited when he took over the women's basketball program. Coach taught us the game of basketball from the ground up, he was a strong believer of fundamentals. We worked hard in practice but also with a purpose! He believed in us and was interested in developing the team not only as athletes but also as strong women of character. Coach Nida will be greatly missed but the work ethic and discipline that he instilled in so many student athletes will live on for generations to come."
Jeannine Ward Morris, King Athletic Hall of Fame basketball player, class of '89.