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Davis, California

Friday, July 19, 2024

Love and basketball

On Kevin Nosek’s court, there lie two sets of boundaries.

One is clearly visible to all – a distinct outline formed by a coat of Yale blue paint that frames Hamilton Court like a portrait.

The other is invisible and less obvious – a border between his life on and off the court.

On the court, he is “Coach Nosek” – an assistant coach for the UC Davis men’s basketball team and a program from which he himself graduated. Away from the blue and gold hardwood, he is a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew and as of Saturday, a husband.

“I really do make a conscious effort to separate them,” said Kevin Nosek, 31, who graduated from UC Davis in 1999 with a degree in organizational studies.

His wife Nicole Nosek attends most of the games at the Pavilion, something he appreciates but doesn’t expect of her.

“The fact that she does go to the games is awesome, fun, supporting and I feel good about it,” said Kevin Nosek, who won the NCAA Division II National Championship as a player with the Aggies in 1998. “But if she never went to a game because she wasn’t into basketball, I’d be OK with that. It is a lot of basketball.

“And if you don’t like basketball, well, it’s a lot of basketball.”

While the two try to keep basketball out of their personal lives as much as possible, sometimes the ball is simply out of their hands. To most people, May is just another month to get married. For Kevin and Nicole Nosek, it is one of the few months to get married.

“When coaches ask me when I’m getting married and I say May, they tell me, ‘Oh, great month to get married,'” Kevin recalled two weeks before the big day. “I mean, I’ve heard that 15 to 20 times. Great month to get married, because it’s our dead month.”

“Not everybody quite understands that we have to plan around basketball,” said Nicole Nosek, 29, who graduated from UC Davis in 2001 with a degree in exercise science. She is currently a physical therapist at Physical Edge on Lake Boulevard. “But it is part of our life and what we plan everything around.

“That’s why we’re getting married on May 24 – there’s no game!”


First dribbles

“I never thought I was going to go to UC Davis,” Kevin Nosek admitted.

In June of 1979, Stan and Ronnie Nosek moved from New York to Davis. The day after Christmas that year, Kevin Nosek came into the world.

After finishing his first three levels of schooling in Davis – North Davis Elementary, Holmes Junior High, Davis High – Kevin Nosek set his sights on San Luis Obispo.

“I was always going to go to Cal Poly,” he said.

“I had an opinion on it,” said Stan Nosek, the UC Davis vice chancellor of administration – better known as the man who signs all campus employees’ paychecks, including his son’s. “But I had no say.”

Then, the chance to stay home and play both basketball and water polo at UC Davis fell into his lap. Current UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball head coach Bob Williams, then at the helm of the Aggies, told Kevin Nosek he was going to make the team. And he could also play club water polo.

“It was a no-brainer,” Kevin Nosek said.

Meanwhile, Nicole Raveret, daughter of native Wisconsinites Jim and Mary Kay Raveret, was finishing up her sophomore year of high school down in the Central Valley town of Atwater.

“We grew up on a farm right outside of town,” Jim Raveret said. “Once she and her two sisters reached high school, their social lives were being impaired, so we finally moved into town.”

Two years later, Nicole Nosek enrolled at UC Irvine. By the end of her freshman year, she sought a return to the California heartland.

“Nicole has always been a social person, and Irvine is a commuter campus,” Jim Raveret said. “Most people lived in the dorms because it was convenient, but they lived elsewhere in Los Angeles and were gone on the weekends. And that didn’t fit her.”

Nicole Nosek transferred her sophomore year to UC Davis, where she would meet her future husband two years later.



One night in March of 2001, after he had finished his second year of coaching at UC Davis, Kevin Nosek decided to unwind at Café Bernardo on D Street.

The team trainer at the time, Suzie Souza, was good friends with Kevin Nosek and also worked together with Nicole Nosek at Bernardo and in the training room, where Nicole Nosek was a student trainer.

“I remember Kevin inquiring about Nicole, and I thought they would be really good together,” Suzie said.

“Suzie kind of facilitated it,” said her husband Rich Souza, who was the team trainer the year before. “But on a campus like UC Davis, they would’ve found each other eventually.”

Nicole Nosek finally approached Kevin Nosek that night, having figured out who he was. Kevin Nosek asked her if she wanted to go out for dinner sometime and gave her his number.

She finished up her final exams that Saturday – St. Patrick’s Day – and called Kevin Nosek the next day. On Monday, they had their first official date – dinner at Soga’s and ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.

“He knew he really liked her, and that first date was really important for him because he really wanted that second date,” Jim Raveret recalled. “He knew right away that she was someone special.”

Five years of dating later, Kevin Nosek found himself open for the biggest shot of his life.


Spotting Up

An admittedly reserved person, Kevin Nosek doesn’t get emotional much.

On Christmas Eve, 2006, he let himself go for just once.

After his mother had given a toast as party host to a couple dozen family and friends, Kevin Nosek began to give his own.

“He started the toast and then I saw the hand go into the pocket,” Ronnie recalled. “And I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh.'”

Meanwhile, something else caught Nicole Nosek’s attention.

“He was getting a little emotional, and he’s usually not a super-emotional guy, so I just thought, ‘Aww, that’s sweet,'” she said. “There was just a change in his voice – a break in it, and it wasn’t like a halftime, this-is-what-we’re-doing kind of pep talk.”

Upon finishing his holiday address to the room, Kevin turned to Nicole.

“He told me that he loved me, and that ever since we’d moved back to Davis together, it had grown more,” said Nicole Nosek, who had been advancing her physical therapy career while Kevin returned to UC Davis from head coaching at Menlo College. “He said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.”

Kevin got down on one knee and asked for the best birthday present a man could ever ask for – the love of his life to marry him.

She said yes.

“It was just incredibly touching,” Ronnie said. “The champagne just started popping – what a wonderful night.”

“I guess he had a ring in his pocket all day and wasn’t quite sure when he was going to do it,” Nicole Nosek said. “He just saw the opportunity, and it was in front of all those people.”

“Coaches like an audience,” Kevin Nosek joked. “I threw a zillion different ideas around in my head, but that Christmas Eve dinner was special to our family in particular. I just felt like that would be a pretty memorable time to do it and that it’d be a good place to do it.

“And we were ready. We were ready to get married.”


The Big Dance

On May 24, 17 months after Kevin asked for Nicole’s hand in marriage, the two finally walked arm in arm up to the altar at St. James Church.

Outside, the skies were a dismal, overcast gray, but as Father Dan Looney put it to begin the ceremony, “A few drops of rain can in no way constrain your joy today.”

Kevin, who wore a sharp-looking, Yankee-inspired pinstripe suit, and Nicole, adorning a lavish, long white gown, turned to face each other at the end of the ceremony and exchanged their vows. In the audience, over 200 friends and family members looked on with proud faces and glowing smiles.

Father Looney concluded the services with an invaluable piece of advice to Kevin: “Always keep Nicole on your team, because she is a marvelous physical therapist, and everyone needs good therapy.”

Afterward, the celebration moved to Freeborn Hall, where the wedding reception took place. With Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird” playing in the background, the newly pronounced husband and wife took the floor and pulled each other close for the ceremonial first dance.

“It’s everything we could have ever wanted,” Nicole Nosek said.

“I think just like before any game, you get the butterflies, anxiety and excitement,” Kevin Nosek said. “But it’s a little different, because you’ve already won.”


RAY LIN can be reached at sports@californiaaggie.com.


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