By Angie Norris
A strong family legacy lives on at Nicoson Hall, the basketball court at the University of Indianapolis, through a former coach and his great-grandson.
The late Angus Nicoson was a standout baseball and basketball player from 1938-1942, when UIndy was known as Indiana Central University. In 1941 and 1942, he helped the basketball team to win 30 straight games. He served as head men’s basketball coach from 1947-1976.
Reminders of Angus’ many accomplishments, including a bronze portrait of him, are impossible to miss at UIndy.
Ben Nicoson, a 2019 Center Grove graduate, had an option to attend Wabash College, one of several colleges that wanted to recruit him, but UIndy felt like home.
“I decided I wanted to play for UIndy after my visit there,” he said. “I had visited Wabash two or three times before the UIndy visit so they were very high on my list of colleges. After my visit to UIndy something just clicked and I enjoyed being there on the campus and with the people there.”
Angus Nicoson died in 1982, nearly two decades before the birth of his great-grandson Ben, currently a sophomore guard at UIndy.
Angus’s son Dan quarterbacked the Greyhounds’ football squads in the mid to late 60s, and still holds the school record for the longest touchdown pass, thrown 89 yards in a game against Manchester during the 1965 campaign. Dan later served as an assistant under former UIndy football coach Bill Bless.
Brent, Dan’s son and Ben’s father, played golf for the Greyhounds in the early 1990s and is now coaching both the men’s and women’s teams. He led the latter to Division II national championships in 2015 and 2018. Between the two, Brent Nicoson has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year a staggering 11 times. “I really don’t feel too much pressure to ‘live up’ to the Nicoson name.” Ben said. “Maybe some pressure, if any, comes from myself, but other than that I don’t really feel pressure like that. I just try to go out there and do the best I can, not really for the family legacy but rather for myself and for my team.”
For Ben, stepping onto the court as a freshman last year was a big deal. “I would say my feelings on the court have changed from freshman year to now my sophomore year,” he said. “I didn’t expect to get many minutes, so I took being able to play some as a freshman as a blessing. This year is the same in terms of being thankful to be able to play out there, but I would say I’m much less nervous. I think that just comes with time and experience. My favorite part of being on the team is meeting a bunch of guys who are sharing the same college experience as me. This year has limited the amount of people I’ve had real contact with so just being able to have a group of guys who I can be pretty close with is nice.”
Nicoson plans to finish undergrad and then go on to graduate school at UIndy for physical therapy.