The Abilene Cowboy football team has a new face of the program. Brad Nicks was hired last Friday night in a special Board of Education meeting. Nicks takes over the Cowboy program from Steve Simpson, who spent six years as head coach. Simpson retired last fall at the conclusion of the season. Nicks spent the last 20 years as an assistant football coach at Shawnee Heights in Tecumseh, Kansas.
Nicks is a 1994 graduate of Rose Hill High School. He went on to Cloud County College where he ran track. He would then complete his Bachelor’s degree at Emporia State University and earned his Master’s degree at Baker University.
Nicks student taught at Topeka Seaman before taking a job at Shawnee Heights. During his time with the Thunderbirds, Nicks spent time as both offensive and defensive coordinator. His first three years were under Frank Cross and the last 17 years under Jason Swift. Coach Nicks was part of a lot of success at Shawnee Heights. The team made the playoffs 14 of the last 17 years when districts were still used. During the last four years with the current postseason format, the Thunderbirds won their opening round playoff game in three of those seasons. Shawnee Heights greatest success during Nicks’s time as assistant coach came in 2014. That season the Thunderbirds made it all the way to the semifinals where they fell to St. Thomas Aquinas by one point. Last fall Shawnee Heights went 5-5 and defeated Lansing 7-0 in the opening round. In the second round the Thunderbirds fell 31-0 at DeSoto.
Coach Nicks has shown that he can build a program. He was the track coach at Shawnee Heights the last 17 seasons. The program only had around 45 kids when he took over and he eventually got 100 plus kids out which paid off. He guided three teams to state titles. The Thunderbird boys won titles in 2007 and 2015 and the girls in 2009.
Nicks takes over a Cowboy program that went 0-9 in 2019. Abilene will open the season at Clay Center on September 4. An interview with Coach Nicks will air during the halftimes of the Abilene games Thursday at the S.I.T.