After spending seven seasons coaching for Division I Towson University’s women’s tennis team, Doug Neagle became NSU’s women’s tennis head coach. Passionate, not only about the game, but also coaching, Neagle is enthusiastic and excited for the competition season to start.
Neagle was introduced to tennis at the age of eight by his older brother. Neagle said that he played many sports before he finally focused on tennis in high school.
“I come from a family where we all play sports. We’re the American boys, you know. We played baseball, football, basketball, soccer, all the sports,” he explained.
After a successful college career at Salisbury University, a Division III school on the eastern coast of Maryland, Neagle was motivated and inspired by his coach to later become a coach too.
“The experience [at college] was unbelievable; I would say it was one of the best experiences of my athletic career. We had a great coach, motivator and recruiter. He kind of was who motivated me and got me into coaching,” Neagle said.
Although the new women’s tennis head coach said he is thankful for the opportunity to coach at NSU, he explained that leaving his old team was very hard. Neagle spent seven years as the coach for Women’s Tennis at Towson and leaving a team after such a long time was anything but easy.
“That was the hardest conversation I’ve had to have in my professional career,” he said. “Telling the girls, you know, that was just a few weeks ago and they just got back [from the summer break]. They were in shock…but happy for me.”
During his first season as a coach at Towson, Neagle’s team played at NSU. He said he saw that the team and facilities at NSU had a lot of potential and envisioned himself coaching for NSU one day. At that time, his brother was his volunteer assistant.
“Seven years ago, we played [at NSU] and my brother was my volunteer coach, he was sitting on the bench next to me, and I said, ‘You know, I can see myself coaching at this school,’” Neagle said. He also mentioned that Florida is a great location for tennis, because while other teams might struggle to practice during the winter, the weather here is perfect to practice on outdoor courts.
“I know the resources and the location here truly compete for a national championship, consistently that’s what we are hoping to do,” Neagle said.
A coach can be one of the most influential people in a student athlete’s life. Neagle explained that the way to learn to be a coach is through experience.
“I am looking forward to get to know this team and getting to know their personalities during their matches,” he said. “You are with [the players] so much during the season so you learn a lot about them in the van rides but then we play so many matches. You are sitting in the court with them and you learn a lot about that person.”
Neagle said that the Sunshine State Conference is one of the toughest conferences not only for tennis, but for most sports.
“For what I understand it is [hard] for all sports, but that was one of the attractions for me, you know, I didn’t want it to be easy. I wanted challenge,” he explained.
Neagle said he has a lot of goals for the spring season, but they were all set by the players. Some of the goals include being a united team on the court, being competitive and encouraging. Winning conference and going to nationals is on the list as well.
“I let them establish the goals and then we are going to meet and go over them… The way I look at [the goals], the big picture is that they want to come together as a team this year and make it more like a family atmosphere where they are really supporting each other,” Neagle stated.
Neagle wants to help the girls to succeed not only on the tennis court but also in life.
He said, “I want them to become better people along the way, on the court and off the court. Getting better in the classroom and learning from each other.”