Neil Macdonald didnt have to look very far when the assistant coaching position came open prior to the 2015 off-season when graduate assistant Nikki Brown was promoted to full-time status.
Brown, entering her third season in the position, was instrumental as a graduate assistant with the program in 2013 and 2014. After concluding a phenomenal soccer career at the University of North Alabama, she made the transition to the coaching profession under Neil Macdonald.
In her first two seasons, Brown has been invaluable in the recruiting process of the last two signing classes. JSU inked 10 newcomers in 2016 and hauled in seven new Gamecocks prior to the 2017 season. In 2016 and for the fifth consecutive year, the JSU soccer program has been represented on the OVC's All Newcomer Team with freshman Cheyenne Carden receiving the honor in 2016. Carden becomes the ninth JSU player to be voted on the first-year player postseason team. She extends JSU's list of having a member on the squad to five, joining Kelsey Bright (2012), Mackenzie Bellows (2013), Chelsi Bender (2014) and Claire Petersen (2015). Carden put together a solid first season at JSU after sharing top goal-scoring honors on the team with Nadia Plawiuk. The Huntsville, Alabama native registered three goals with all of them coming against OVC competition. Carden finished her first season at JSU having played in 20 matches and starting in 17 of those matches. She made her first start of the season against The Citadel on Sept. 18. Carden tallied 15 shots on the season, including eight on goal chances. She ranked in the top 10 of the OVC in league matches only in points and goals. The Gamecocks were competitive throughout a tough 5-13-1 overall mark and a 2-8 record in OVC matches in 2016 as 11 of the 13 setbacks were by one goal, including a pair of double overtime results.
In 2015, JSU turned in another program-first as it posted a 5-4-1 mark in the OVC, which was the best conference mark since joining the league in 2003. The Gamecocks finished third in the league standings to finish third in the OVC and hosted Southeast Missouri in the first round of the 2015 OVC Soccer Championship.
While at JSU, Brown has led the programs community service efforts with the local recreation organization and also organizes the programs philanthropy efforts. In 2015, Brown and the Gamecocks joined with the Exchange Club of Jacksonville to support the prevention of child abuse. The club hosted an online auction with all the proceeds benefiting child abuse prevention. The auction raised over $1,500 in contributions to the cause.
In 2014, JSU defied the preseason prognostications and turned in a 6-4 worksheet within the conference and an 11-win season. Jax State made its fourth OVC Tournament appearance and the first since 2005. JSU made an incredible run in the conference tournament, reaching the championship match before falling to SIU Edwardsville in overtime. The Gamecocks opened with a win over UT Martin in penalty kicks in the opening round before dispatching regular season champion and host, Southeast Missouri, 1-0, in the semifinals.
Brown, a native of Bognor Regis, England, helped the Lions to an impressive 63-16-3 record in her four seasons at the Florence, Ala., school. The four-year starter appeared in 81 matches, including 78 starts at UNA. While fighting through injuries the entire 2012 season, Brown finished with 11 points behind two goals and seven assists. Her seven assists tied for sixth in the Gulf South Conference. She was also listed sixth in the league with a .053 assists-per game average. Brown established a new UNA career assist record with 51 over a four-year time frame.
She earned First Team All-GSC distinction in 2009, 2010 and 2011, while being tabbed Second Team All-GSC as a senior. The captain of the 2012 UNA squad also nabbed All-South Region honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. She also garnered GSC All-tournament honors after helping lead the lions to the conference championship against West Florida.
Brown started collecting post-season accolades in her freshman season. She was named a First Team Daktronics All-South Region selection three times, while also accumulating Second Team Daktronics All-America honors from 2009-2011.
Her dedication was not left on the pitch, as she excelled in the classroom as well. In 2013, she was awarded with the University of North Alabama Female Student-Athlete of the Year Award because of her work on the field and in the classroom, carrying a 3.77 grade point average as a physical education major. Her academic success also earned her Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society status and a spot on the GSC All-Academic Team.
Brown earned a spot on the GSCs Top 10 Award for the third consecutive year in June of 2013. The GSC Top 10 Awards are based on athletic, academic and extracurricular achievement during the 2012-13 academic year and recognize the top five male and top five female student-athletes as the cream of the GSC crop.
She earned her bachelors degree in physical education from UNA in 2013 and received her masters degree in sports management from JSU in 2015.
She is the daughter of Malcolm and Laura Brown.
Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State University