OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University announced the hiring of Nikki Palmer as the new head coach of Wolverine softball. Palmer becomes the third softball head coach in UVU's Division I history.
"We are so excited to have Nikki Palmer as our new head softball coach at Utah Valley University," said Dr. DJ Smith, senior associate athletic director. "She comes highly recommended with great credentials and is an excellent fit for us. She has a passion and enthusiasm for the game and will be a tremendous asset for us as the Wolverines transition into the Western Athletic Conference. Having coached for two other universities in the state, Nikki has excellent connections. She is an exciting, dynamic, up-and-coming coach, and we are thrilled to have her join the Wolverine staff."
Palmer comes to UVU with an already established familiarity with the state of Utah and its softball circles. For the last two seasons, she has held an assistant coaching position at Weber State, which was preceded by a year in the same position at Utah State. In 2012, her first with WSU, she helped lead the Wildcats to a tie for second place in the Mountain Division of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference — one the best seasons in program history.
With WSU, Palmer was directly responsible for developing the Wildcat offense, creating independent hitting drills for the team. As such, she had a hand in the development of 2012's PCSC Mountain Division Player of the Year, Lyndsey Minnich. Third-best in the league, Minnich batted .453 in conference-only play, including a slugging percentage of .830 and a .613 on-base percentage.
With USU in 2011, she worked primarily with the outfield but also held responsibilities in establishing a recruiting system and database — laying the groundwork for her future recruiting endeavors at Weber State and now at Utah Valley.
Prior to her time in Logan, she held two other assistant coaching stints. She spent two years with San Francisco State and another with her alma mater at UC San Diego, helping the Tritons reach the West Regional of the 2008 NCAA Division II tournament.
"I feel so blessed to be given this opportunity by the administration and to be able to become a part of what is a strong tradition of winning at Utah Valley University," Palmer said. "I feel a tremendous sense of pride in joining the UVU softball program and being offered the chance to build on the success that it has experienced in recent years. I am delighted to be a Wolverine.
"This is an exciting time for the institution and the athletic program as we begin a transition into a historically strong and prominent conference in the WAC. My expectations are for us to experience tremendous success on the field and in the classroom and to place Wolverine softball within the upper echelon of the Western Athletic Conference."
A native of Temecula, Calif., Palmer played four seasons at UCSD. She started 146 of the 158 games she appeared in during her career, playing primarily at catcher. She graduated in 2007 with a degree in sociology and earned a master's degree from National University in 2010.
UVU softball went 35-20 last season under the direction of interim head coach Rachel Hartgrove, setting a program record for wins for the second consecutive year. That team finished third in the PCSC standings and produced seven all-conference performers — four of whom will return for the 2014 season.
Following the completion of the record-setting 2013 campaign, Hartgrove elected to step away from full-time coaching for personal and family reasons.
"Rachel did a great job for us as interim coach," Smith said. "She stepped in at a difficult time and pulled things together. We could not have asked for more from her. Obviously, with our team having a record-setting season, Rachel got the job done. We respect her decision to step away from the head coaching position and have nothing but admiration for the way she handled the program during her tenure."
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.