NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — At 6’9″, Anders Nelson was asked his entire life when he would pick up a basketball. Instead he fell in love with the game of volleyball and is ready to rebuild the program at Vanderbilt after being away for nearly 45 years.

“I don’t lose sight of what an opportunity is,” Nelson told News 2. “I’m incredibly grateful to be the one who gets to lead this thing.”

When he learned of the job opportunity at Vandy, he knew it was the one for him.

“My next interview was a zoom interview with Candice [Storey Lee, Vanderbilt Athletic Director], and if I wasn’t sold by that point, holy cow, I was sold … Candice made me believe, and I still believe this, that they added volleyball to be a successful sport here at Vanderbilt.”

Nelson has the background to do it.

He’s been around volleyball his whole life — following his sister’s journey to playing the game at the Division I level and then playing volleyball himself on a club team at Ball State. He would later get an assistant coaching opportunity at the University of Kentucky, where he would get his first taste of breaking barriers.

“It all culminated with the national championship in 2020, and I don’t think it was really on my mind that it was we were going to be the first SEC team to win one, but since we’ve won it, that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of is just being able to bring that to this region and this conference.”

Building a roster has caused Nelson a little anxiety, but they have completed their first recruiting class and are closing in on their Fall 2024 season opener where Nelson plans to honor the women who played in that final season in 1979.

“I want to be clear that we’re bringing the program back. So just making sure we pay respect to them.”