MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (May 22, 2017) – USA Volleyball honored its junior community with its annual national Junior Awards Luncheon Monday afternoon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The luncheon was held in conjunction with USA Volleyball’s Annual Meetings.

Honorees included:

  • Nancy Paulson (Racine, Wisconsin, Badger Region) – Outstanding Clinician
  • Nicole Stoll (Springfield, Illinois, Gateway Region) – Outstanding Female Coach
  • Mike Hulett (Vernon Hills, Illinois, Great Lakes Region) – Outstanding Male Coach
  • Rodolfo Marrero (Homestead, Florida, Florida Region) – Outstanding Referee
  • Rhonda Heide (Jupiter, Florida, Florida Region) – Outstanding Parent
  • David Jester (Orlando, Florida, Florida Region)– Outstanding Service, Florida Region

Nancy Paulson (Outstanding Clinician)

Nancy Paulson has been a member of USA Volleyball for close to 20 years. As a founding member of the Badger Region in 1994, she has held various roles within the organization and board of directors; Juniors chair, IMPACT instructor, high performance cadre, area representative, associate commissioner and currently the scorer chair. She was honored with the region’s highest service award, the Leif Storvik, as well as the USAV Lindsay Meritorious Service award.

Paulson’s clinician role within the Badger Region has focused around the development of the scoring certification program over the last 15 years. She was asked to take on the role for the Badger Region by the current regional commissioner, I developed the skills, information and training protocols that were needed to establish a systematic approach for people to train to master the skill. Each year, the program grows, broadens its level of certification opportunities and enhances the programming offered by the Region.

Paulson’s past volleyball career, includes NCAA/NAIA II All American and student-athlete honors while competing in the sport at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside where she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for her accomplishments. She has co-directed and coached in her junior volleyball club for to 20 years, during that time elevated boys’ junior volleyball in her area to national recognition including a 3rd place finish at National Championship tournament in the 18 and under division. Currently, Nancy co-directs a boy’s bid event, the Boys’ Winter Volleyball Championship, and the Molten Wisconsin Volleyball Festival.

Paulson feels it has been an honor to represent USAV and the Badger Region, and more importantly, to work with a very dedicated group of individuals whom have given so much of themselves to grow and develop the sport at all levels.

Heather Piccone (Outstanding Program Director)

Heather Piccone is married for 22 years to Aaron and is the mother of two kids; Michael who is graduating OSU this spring and heading to law school and Marie, who is a high school senior at Twinsburg High school and heading to college in the fall. Marie has been playing the game since nine and is now an assistant USA volleyball coach.

Piccone has been involved with sports ministry for the last 15 years, which originally started at Christ Community Chapel while on staff for six years. At CCC she launched a variety of programs including: camps, recreational leagues, open gyms, competitive travel programs and tournaments for both boys and girls as well as adults. The programs at CCC grew too large for the two-court church to contain so Piccone moved outside the building and created IGNITE Volleyball.

IGNITE volleyball is a Christian co-ed volleyball club in the Ohio Valley region. IGNITE provides tournaments, recreational leagues, skills programs, camps, lessons and competitive USA team opportunities to over 300 players in our area. Roughly 130 of those boys and girls play competitively in our Junior program. They encourage their families to serve in the community through projects in retirement villages, homeless shelters, food pantries, as well as fundraisers for veterans and cancer research. IGNITE does a lot of character building along with technical training of the game in order to produce well rounded people and players. They believe WHO you are is more important than HOW you play. IGNITE passionately wants to grow the next generation of coaches. They offer an internship program that trains their players to give back and coach the game they love.

In addition to IGNITE, Piccone coaches in the community as well in the Twinsburg schools system as well as served as a specialty coach for various high school programs for both boys and girls throughout north east Ohio.

Nicole Stoll (Outstanding Female Coach)

Nicole Stoll is truly a homegrown Midwestern girl. She is a proud 2007 graduate of Athens High School located in Athens, Illinois. More recently, Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology at the University of Illinois with an emphasis on elementary education. Today, she lives in Springfield, Illinois with her new husband Nick and the love of their lives, their Labra-Doodle Charlie. Stoll is putting her degree to use as a fourth grade teacher at Harvard Park Elementary School.

In addition to Nick and Charlie, Nicole has another love, coaching volleyball. Stoll began coaching volleyball in high school, working with the local seventh and eighth grade volleyball teams. After gaining both confidence and experience at the lower level, in 2008 Stoll was offered a head coaching position with a local competitive volleyball club, Shock VBC. Stoll would go on to coach 12U, 15U, and 18U for Shock over the next three years with notable success. In 2011 she was picked up by one of the most successful high school programs in the Central Illinois area, Sacred Heart Griffin. As Stoll experienced tremendous success at Sacred Heart Griffin, her athletes were her biggest supporters. It was her own players who urged another local competitive Director, Jennifer Wood Holliday of Top Notch VBC, to seek out and hire Stoll. Since that time in 2011, Stoll has been an important part of the success sustained by an ever-growing and nationally recognized Top Notch Gators.

Now in her sixth year with Top Notch VBC, Stoll has coached successful seasons with the 11U, 12U, 13U, 15U, and 18U athletes. Her personal team philosophy meshed with her ability to recognize and adapt her style of play, her personal interest and relationships with players and fellow coaches, and her willingness to take on more responsibilities have made her one of the most valuable and sought after coaches within the Top Notch VBC program.

Mile Hulett (Outstanding Male Coach)

Mike Hulett has an extensive resume at various levels. His experience in high school coaching includes Evanston High school as a girls and boys coach, St. Scholastic High School, assistant girls coach, Regina Dominican High School as a head coach and Barrington High school as the boys’ head coach.

Hulett’s club experience has been as a director and head coach for boys and girls at Evanston Volleyball Club, Chicago North Shore as a director and Head coach for both boys and girls, Shoreline Volleyball Club as boys’ director and head coach, Hulett has been the club director and head coach for boys and girls from 1999 to the present.

Hulett has served at various level both regionally with the Great Lakes Region and nationally through USA Volleyball, which is the national governing body of volleyball in the United States. He has served on the Great Lakes Board of Directors, the 16-and-under age group director and Great Lakes Junior Assembly representative to USA Volleyball Annual Meetings.

Hulett was the head coach for U.S. Paralympic Men’s Sitting Team from 1966 to 2000 and the head coach for the U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Team coach from 2003 to 2008.

Hulett has been the recipient of the USA Volleyball George J. Fischer Leader in Volleyball in 2002 and USA Volleyball’s most prestigious Harold T. Friermood “Frier” Award in 2012.

Rodolfo Marrero (Outstanding Referee)

Rodolfo Marrero was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has three beautiful and energetic children. He moved to Miami, Florida, in 2010. He played volleyball and basketball, from a very young age; basketball was his true passion. After an injury while playing basketball in 2002, he began his career as a volleyball referee. Quickly, He fell in love with his new role. Leading him to be nominated to work the Professional Volleyball League, in a very short period of time.

After a short recess, he resumed his career as a volleyball referee in 2012; this time under USA Volleyball. Thanks to the Florida Region, he adapted to USA Volleyball technic and rules. Soon his passion for the sport grew again, wanting him to get better every day. Helping him grow and mature as a person and a professional; challenging him to reach as far as he can in this prestigious and amazing career. In addition, Marrero loves to help his fellow referees, athletes, coaches and volleyball clubs in his area. He is very involved in the youth ministry at his church and serves as an usher.

People from the Florida Region describe Marrero as being quiet, but never misses what is going on, professional, but he likes to have fun and always striving to the membership with positive experiences. The Florida Region looks forward to a lasting relationship Marrero and anticipates he will go far in his officiating career by maintaining an exemplary work ethic.

Marrero has received the Outstanding Adult Referee Ben Jordan Gold Whistle Award in the Florida Region.

Rhonda Heide (Outstanding Parent)

Rhonda Heide is a non-athletic Florida native, teacher, and wife of a multi-sport coach for 21 years. With four kids playing different sports at the highest levels possible, it became second nature to be involved with the behind-the-scenes work supporting her husband and kids. While all the sports have been fun to learn about and enjoy, volleyball has become her favorite. Her older kids tease her that they lose their mom to volleyball season each year.

Her daughter, Hannah, picked up a volleyball at age eight. The Heide family has been very fortunate to have supported many amazing, dedicated youth and travel coaches over the years, but the Florida volleyball community has really been an amazing group of people that are so very dedicated to the growth of the sport in the state. Working within a network of such great people makes the volunteer hours a true pleasure.

Palm Beach Juniors is one of the oldest travel clubs in the southeast United States, enjoying many traditions and players’ success stories over the years. Heide supports the PBJ tournaments and all teams throughout the club, but the labor of love is also in support of her youngest daughter. She has np thought of retiring when Hannah is finished playing club volleyball.

It is a great honor to be recognized by the USAV at the national level for supporting her Palm Beach Juniors teams, but Heide’s efforts are performed out of complete respect, admiration and appreciation for coaches and staff giving so much to her daughter year-round.

David Jester (Outstanding Service)

David Jester’s love for volleyball started at an early age. He played it in the neighborhood as he was growing up and continued when he served in the Marines. Back then, they didn’t have the rules they have today. They had what was called “jungle rules.” Once a week they would have the choice of participating in a sport of their choice. Jester’s choice was always volleyball, whether indoor or out. Outdoor could have been in the sand, dirt or mud but it was enjoyable just the same. At family get togethers there would always be volleyball courts and it would be the most popular attraction because anyone could play no matter their age, size or shape.

As he grew older his love for Volleyball continued. Jester also possesses a love for photography. He has always loved sports, photography and our youth so he put them all together. He has met some of the most amazing people, both young and old, while shooting the sport of Volleyball. Jester’s life always seems to brighten up a bit when he walks into a gym, beach, or sand court and they are playing volleyball. He says it will forever bring a smile to his heart.