As the spring sports season approached during Nick Virden’s Gibson Southern’s freshman year, he had to decide whether to play baseball or golf.
He chose golf and he calls that “one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Now that decision looks better than ever.
After lettering four years at Gibson Southern and Oakland City University and starting regularly for each school, the 23-year-old Virden has now become the next head coach for the Mighty Oaks and Lady Oaks.
In each role, he succeeds David Hose, who he assisted during the just-ended school year. Hose resigned from both head coaching roles to put more time into his sports information directorship.
“I’m really excited,” Virden said. “It will be a big task, but we have a great staff. T-Ray Fletcher is a great athletic director. I can rely on David, who will assist me. I have great support from all of our coaches in other sports because we rely on each other.
“We care about kids on and off the field. They’re not just playing a sport; they’re also getting an education.”
Virden is already receiving praise. “Nick brings continued stability to our golf programs and he’ll keep them going in the same direction,” Fletcher said.
“I’m really excited for Nick. He’ll keep us going in the same direction,” said Hose.
Virden, graduated from OCU last May with business, accounting and management degrees. He grew up in Owensville and is the son of Troy and Joyce Virden. Troy Virden wrestled for Princeton Community.
“I started playing golf when I was about 11. Dad and I would go play in Princeton or Mt. Carmel and I went to Gibson Southern youth golf camps,” Nick said.
“Back then, I thought I’d play baseball in high school. When I had to make that decision, I talked with family. I think I got a little burnt out on baseball because I’d play in the spring and summer travel ball season. I realized that golf meant a lot to me, so I decided to go that way in high school.
“One of the best decisions I ever made.”
While at Gibson Southern, Virden made the All-Pocket Athletic Conference team three times. He advanced individually from sectional to regional as a sophomore and junior and helped the team reach regional as a 2016 senior when he came within one stroke of qualifying individually for the state tournament.
“I had golf offers from the University of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana, Hanover, Vincennes University and one other school that I don’t remember,” he said.
“When I met with Oakland City University golfers, I thought that would be a good fit both academically and athletically, so I made that decision.”
The Mighty Oaks made the National Christian College Athletic Association national championships in all four years of Virden’s playing career.
“I played in the national tournament my last three years, but not as a freshman. Our coach picked a senior to play our six-man role at nationals that year. We had seventh and eighth place finishes as a team my sophomore and junior years.”
While Hose was coaching the OCU Women at the recent River States Conference Tournament, Virden coached the Mighty Oaks team at the River States Men’s Tournament in Florence, Indiana, about 30 miles southwest of Cincinnati.
“We finished eighth among 12 teams. I was happy to coach our men because that took one thing off David’s plate,” he said.
“I think our men’s team will be good this coming year. I think we’ll be top five in the conference. Trevor Duvall, who played No. 1 this year, was our only senior. Our No. 2, Noah Onyett No. 3 Hayden Kabrick, No. 4 Corben Shrock and No. 5 Jonathan Miller all return.”
“All six girls that finished fourth in the Rivers State will return. I think we can be in the top three.”
Hallie Hinton will return as the Mighty Oaks leader. “Our women have qualified for the NCAA National’s five straight years, including all three of Hallie’s years. She and Haylee Exline both made the conference All-Second team. Haylee will be a sophomore.
Gillian Blessinger from Jasper also returns along with Katie Alexander, Katlyn Price and Dixie Short.
Not only do they play in the spring, OCU’s Men’s and Women’s golfers play in the fall as they try to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
The coming fall will be memorable for Virden for another reason. On October 9 he’ll marry former Barr-Reeve Volleyball player Kendra Yoder who graduated from OCU with accounting and human resource majors last week.