Nelson Named Director of Recruiting

NCAA national champion joins Commodore staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kristina “KoKo” Nelson has joined head coach Shea Ralph’s staff as the Vanderbilt women’s basketball director of recruiting, as announced Wednesday.

“I am so excited to welcome KoKo to our staff,” Ralph said. “We have said from our very first day on campus that we want to build this program with great people, so KoKo is a natural fit as we expand our staff. She is hardworking, determined, experienced in the fast-paced world of recruiting, and a proven winner. I remember her toughness and her resilience from her time as a student-athlete. She was reliable and a great teammate, and is still all of those things today.

“The more people I have on my staff who want to succeed, who want to collaborate and work as a team, who have championship-level experience and who can serve as role models for our players, the more we embody what it means to represent Vanderbilt and become elite. KoKo helps make us elite.”

Nelson will be responsible for aiding the coaching staff in all areas of recruiting including travel, correspondence, campus visits, and sharing what makes Vanderbilt women’s basketball an elite program among the SEC and national competition.

“I am really excited to help rebuild this program into a national powerhouse,” Nelson said. “I got to be part of this kind of culture as a student-athlete, and I am eager to use my experience to help us do that at Vanderbilt.”

Nelson served in a similar capacity with first-year head coach Clark Lea and the Vanderbilt football program as the recruiting operations coordinator. She joined the Commodores in 2021, guiding the program to one its best recruiting classes in program history.

“It’s important for me to thank coach Lea for bringing me to Vanderbilt and for his blessing in this move,” said Nelson. “I am thrilled to be back in the sport I love and helping empower young women to be their best every day.

“The family I have created at Vanderbilt is so special, and I am eager to be able to continue growing within this department. During my time as a student-athlete, I had the chance to compete against coach Ralph more times than I can remember. She has been helping the game evolve throughout her career. I have so much respect for her and am grateful for her trust in such an important role on her staff.”

Nelson spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Minnesota football program as a recruiting and graphics design assistant. During her time with the Golden Gophers, the team went 14-6 and won the 2019 Outback Bowl with a 34-31 victory against Auburn.

A Notre Dame graduate, Nelson was a 2018 NCAA national champion with the women’s basketball program. Having played in three Final Fours in her five seasons, she aided the Fighting Irish to an overall record boasting 174 wins and only 13 losses. She was a student-athlete from 2013-18 and a two-time ACC All-Academic honoree.

While at Notre Dame, Nelson also worked as a graphic design intern, creating graphics for all sports to use on UND.com, emails and social media. She also worked as an intern with Winning Edge Leadership and made custom social media graphics for leadership retreat participants.