She officially announced her retirement in February 2023. If you have ever followed New Jersey high school volleyball, you have heard Maria Nolan’s name. Prior to working at IHA, Coach Nolan coached for twenty-seven years at Secaucus High School, where she led the program to sixteen New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state titles, seventeen league titles, fifteen county titles, and eight undefeated seasons.
She began at IHA in 2004 and has coached hundreds of Blue Eagles over the last two decades. She also started Maria Nolan’s Developmental Volleyball Camp for Girls at Immaculate Heart Academy in 2002. Coach Nolan ended her IHA coaching career with a 581-47 record, a ninety-three winning percentage. She also holds the title of all-time wins leader in New Jersey volleyball history with a record of 1101-116. IHA’s overall home record is 214-1 (a more than ninety-nine winning percentage), boasting only one at-home loss since Coach Nolan began.
“For the first ten years, I was fortunate enough to be a co-coach with Michael DeCastro,” Coach Nolan reflected. “These years were pivotal in developing IHA into the premier volleyball program in New Jersey. When Mike left to work for the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland, Eddie Rossiter and Ed Jedziniak helped continue the legacy.”
Under Coach Nolan’s leadership, IHA has been New Jersey’s #1 volleyball team twelve of the last fifteen seasons. She has coached more than seventy players who received county and state accolades and has led IHA to fourteen NJSIAA Non-Public State titles, fifteen NJSIAA Sectional titles, seven Bergen County titles, and nineteen league titles. IHA also earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award seventeen out of the last possible eighteen years.
Coach Nolan holds several IHA NJSIAA records including Most Consecutive State Titles (13 from 2007-2019), Most Consecutive Final Appearances (16 from 2006-2022), Most Consecutive Tournament of Champion titles (4 from 2011-2014), Most Tournament of Champion titles (10), and Most Consecutive Tournament of Champion championship final appearances (9 from 2011-2019). Since she began at Immaculate Heart in 2004, IHA won 10 of a possible 17 Tournament of Champion titles.
She has coached numerous athletes who continued to play collegiately at all levels. Many have become high school and college coaches and officials, and two who were All-Americans and NCAA Champions trained and played for the USA National Team. Under Coach Nolan’s leadership, IHA has yielded ten Gatorade Players of the Year including Ariel Scott’10 in 2008 and 2009; Nia Reed’14 in 2011, 2012, and 2013; Caitlyn Floyd’16 in 2014; Julia Morris’18 in 2017; Anna Morris’20 in 2018 and 2019; and Brookelyn Talmadge’23 in 2022.
Maria wasn’t the only Nolan to start her IHA career in 2004; her daughter, Andrea Nolan Boyd’08 entered as a freshman that same year. Andrea played volleyball under her mother, and they even shared the thrill of winning Maria’s first NJSIAA State and ToC titles at IHA during Andrea’s senior season. “After winning so many at Secaucus High School,” Coach Nolan said, “I wanted to do the same for her. Little did I know that in years to come, so many other IHA Volleyball players would experience the thrill of becoming state champions.”
Throughout her rewarding and lucrative career, Coach Nolan has served on various boards and committees for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), NJSIAA, and the New Jersey State Coaches Association (NJSCA). She was named The Star-Ledger Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2009, the NFHS National Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1999, the NJSIAA Volleyball Legend’s Award recipient in 2004, the American Volleyball Coaches Association Region Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2022, #6 NJ.com Top New Jersey Coaches of All Time in 2019, and Coach of the Year in Hudson County, BCSL, and United Division over numerous years, in addition to receiving a number of other accolades and awards. Coach Nolan was also inducted into the Halls of Fame at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (2003), New Jersey State Coaches Association (1989), Hudson County (2000), Secaucus High School (1996), and Immaculate Heart Academy (2019).
Mr. Steve Ferro, IHA director of athletics, wished Coach Nolan the very best in her retirement. “As probably one of the greatest high school volleyball coaches of all time, Maria Nolan’s wins and losses and the number of championships achieved will always be remembered in the record books,” he said. “But her ability to develop, teach, and motivate along with her gift of inspiring young women with her life lessons is what I believe is her true IHA legacy.”
Coach Nolan said that one of her main joys of coaching has been to help girls develop into confident, competent young women and outstanding volleyball players. “The wins have been rewarding, but what I will miss the most is helping and watching the players progress,” she said. “The IHA student-athlete is focused, committed, and hard-working. I am very grateful to have coached so many volleyball players who were diligent in the classroom, and then attacked the court with the same intensity.”
Mr. Jason Schlereth, IHA president, said that Coach Nolan has been “an exemplary coach at IHA both on and off the court. Her goal has always been the successful development of the complete student-athlete,” he continued. “Maria’s resume speaks for itself, but her passion for coaching young athletes and for the sport of volleyball is incomparable. On behalf of everyone here at Immaculate Heart Academy, we will miss her and congratulate her on her retirement.”
As Coach Nolan embarks on her next journey of retirement, she sends special thanks to the players, coaches, parents, and IHA administration who have all contributed to helping her achieve the many milestones of her career. “This chapter of my life has come to a close,” she continued, “but the memories will last forever.”