Long-time local club coach and high school assistant takes over for retired Ed Gover
Kat Niksto has coached volleyball in the Santa Barbara community for several years. (Dave Loveton photo)
Kat Niksto has been part of the Santa Barbara volleyball community for several years, assisting in high school programs and coaching club teams.
She now gets the opportunity to run a program.
Niksto has been hired as the women’s volleyball coach at SBCC.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a grad assistant back at Temple University,” she said of becoming a head coach at the collegiate level. “When my husband and I made the decision to move back home to Santa Barbara, I knew my coaching opportunities would be more limited. So getting this chance to take over such an established program and get to continue my passion of coaching in my hometown, I feel truly lucky.”
Niksto replaces Ed Gover, who retired last season after serving 28 years as SBCC’s head women’s volleyball coach.
Niksto and Gover know each other well as they both coached girls teams with the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club for several years.
Niksto coached teams in nine of her 10 years with the SBVC. She also served as the club’s director.
After leaving the club in last Fall, she coached the UCSB women’s club volleyball team and guided it to a ninth-place finish at the nationals.
Niksto also has lots of experience coaching at the high school level. She started in 2012 as the JV coach at Laguna Blanca, a CIF-SS small schools’ power in girls volleyball. She joined Jason Donnelly’s staff at Bishop Diego in 2014 and returned to Laguna Blanca when Donnelly was hired as athletic director and girls volleyball coach in 2015. The Owls won a CIF-SS girls title and finish as runners-up in the CIF State Tournament.
Niksto served as assistant coach for the Laguna girls varsity team and this past spring assisted Donnelly with the varsity boys team and coached a middle school boys team.
“Jason has been my hugest mentor,” she said. “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.”
Donnelly said he was thrilled for Niksto to take over the SBCC program.
“She’ll be a great role model for her student athletes. Kat is a fantastic coach who can teach volleyball at a really high level,” he added. “More importantly, however, she’s a wonderful person who will help guide them, on and off the court, through the beginning of their college years.”
SBCC women’s volleyball consistently has been ranked among the top programs in the state.
Niksto and her husband, Jake, have two young sons – EJ (8) and Quincy (5). She is an alum of Dos Pueblos and played collegiately at Pomona Pitzer, where she was a two-time all-conference and All-Western Region selection as an outside hitter. She was named the Female Athlete of the Year as a senior.
Niksto earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Art from Pomona Pitzer and a Masters of Education in Sports and Recreation Administration from Temple.