Nichols takes the reins of VHS girls basketball team

Published 6:36 am Saturday, August 6, 2016

Cashanda Nichols has been named Varnado’s girls basketball and track coach.

“It is heartfelt for this former basketball player to become the head coach of her high school alma mater,” Nichols said.

Nichols moves over one seat on the bench to the head coaching spot after being an assistant for Varnado last year. Before that, she spent about four years as a CECP coach (volunteer) for girls basketball at Varnado while teaching at Wesley Ray. She taught at Wesley Ray for about nine years and is teaching her first year at Varnado this school year.

Nichols, a 1992 Varnado High School graduate, said her previous work with the players will help build relationships for this year.

“She has been the assistant coach with Mrs. Peters. It’s just a new season for basketball here at Varnado,” Varnado principal Jennifer Beninato said. “She’s ready to step up and be the head coach, get these girls ready and work with them. I know she’s had a lot of experience as an assistant coach and she’s also been the assistant coach with track. She knows the kids. She knows the families and I think she’s ready for it.”

Nichols takes over for Lubertha Peters, who retired after the 2015-16 school year.

Nichols played forward and center under Peters from 1988-92 and praised her former coach.

“Thinking of the number of years she has put in, having played under her and worked under her as a coach, I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Nichols said. “She’s been a coach, a mentor and it makes it a lot easier to make this transition.”

Peters’ respect for Nichols is mutual.

“Cashanda is going to be a good coach,” Peters said. “She’s one of my players. I coached her. She’s going to put her heart into it. I could see myself in her because she works hard, she’s dedicated and she loves it.”

Peters had a long career at Varnado. Her career began with teaching stints at Thomas High School and Wesley Ray High School for a year each before the schools consolidated and became Varnado High School prior to the 1974-75 school year. She began coaching in the 1973-74 season at Wesley Ray. Peters was an assistant coach the first year of VHS, took off from coaching in the second and became the head basketball coach in the third.

She had been in that position ever since.

“The journey has been great,” Peters said. “If I had to do it again, I would do it again and the same way because I love coaching and teaching, I love the sport, I love the school and I loved my job. If you don’t have love with what you do, you’re fighting a losing battle.”

Under Peters’ tutelage, Varnado went to the playoffs plenty of times, getting as far as the state semifinals in 1980. She also guided Varnado to a number of district titles.