College Sports

McKendree volleyball coach honored for leading Bearcats through adversity

McKendree’s fight song is played at the White House

During the national champion McKendree women's bowling team visit to Washington, D.C., a band at the White House played the school's fight song.
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During the national champion McKendree women's bowling team visit to Washington, D.C., a band at the White House played the school's fight song.

McKendree University men’s head volleyball coach Nickie Sanlin has been named the 2019 Ivan Marquez Award Winner for the 2019 season after leading the Bearcats to their best season in program history, finishing 13-13 overall.



The Ivan Marquez Award is presented to the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball head coach that best leads through adversity both on and off the court to meet or exceed preseason expectations.

“To learn that I have been named the inaugural Ivan Marquez Award winner is an extreme honor,” said Sanlin. “I am grateful to be recognized for the love and pride I have for my work and the young men I coach and care for on a daily basis. This season could not have been successful without the love and support from my parents, McKendree family, the volleyball community, and of course my team.”



McKendree was picked to finish second to last in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) preseason poll and had four graduated starters to replace in this year’s lineup. The Bearcats fought through a devastating time off the court with the death of teammate Kirk Jackson in January.

Jackson’s body was found in the yard of a home in the 100 block of Perryman Street in Lebanon around 7:30 a.m. An autopsy showed the hypothermia was the cause of death and that the 19-year-old had an elevated blood-alcohol level.

Sanlin helped the team cope and grieve.

Despite these setbacks, Sanlin led the Bearcats to their highest MIVA ranking, a victory over Ohio State University for the first time since joining the MIVA in 2015, and the program’s first postseason MIVA Quarterfinal home match.



The team wasn’t just successful in MIVA competition. Under Sanlin’s lead, McKendree took down No. 8 Brigham Young University, the highest nationally-ranked opponent the Bearcats have ever defeated. McKendree also finished the season ranked third in the Off the Block Division II National Coaches Poll, its highest ranking since the poll began in 2017.



The Ivan Marquez Award is named in honor of former Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) executive director and Concordia-New York coach and athletics director.

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