Growing up next to Lebanon’s South Sixth Street Playground – a pretty iconic place to play hoops – Veronica Nolt first knew she wanted to be a basketball coach at the age of 14.

She was an incoming freshman at Lebanon Catholic in 1984, watching the L.A. Summer Olympics on TV, mesmerized by a woman’s basketball coach from Tennessee named Pat Summitt who led Team USA to the gold medal.

Nothing would be the same after those Los Angeles games. Nolt was hooked, and Summitt – the first woman to be a superstar college coach – was her role model.

Today, Nolt is in her ninth season as head coach of the Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team, coming off two consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Veronica Nolt, Elizabethtown College women’s basketball coach, scans the court during a break in the game. (Provided photo by Paul Nesmith)

Watches Tennessee practice

For three years, Nolt started at forward for Lebanon Catholic. “We were all small,” she laughed, with no one taller than 5-4 or 5-5.

Nolt was a two-time all-county selection and Lancaster-Lebanon League All-Star before continuing her playing career at Millersville.

With the Marauders, Nolt achieved Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete status in 1990 and 1991. She graduated magna cum laude from Millersville in 1992 with a bachelor’s in elementary education and a coaching minor. Nolt returned to Millersville to obtain her master’s of education in sport management (coaching emphasis) in 2002.

While still in college, she got her first job as an assistant at Donegal, coaching ninth grade.

Her first head coaching position was at Middletown High School, which reached the District 3 Class AAA and PIAA Championships twice during her tenure. That was when she met Pat Summitt for the first time.

In 1996, Nolt reached out to Summitt’s office to see if they would let her watch practice. “They were extremely gracious,” Nolt told LebTown.

So she drove down to Tennessee to see Summitt in action. “I’m not easily intimidated,” Nolt said, but when she got there, “I was in awe.”

After 2000, Nolt took time away from coaching to start a family with husband Matt; the Nolts have three children, son Nicholas and daughters Julia and Elyssa.

During that period, she gave private basketball lessons. “I really missed coaching,” Nolt said.

Then one day, when she and her husband were driving by the E-town College campus, he told her, “Someday, you’re going to be the head coach there.”

Third-winningest coach

She has been with the Blue Jays since 2012-13, spending two seasons as an assistant coach, one as co-head coach and another as interim before officially being named the permanent head coach in April 2016. Nolt also serves as an assistant athletic director and senior woman’s administrator for the department.

At this point the third-winningest coach in program history, Nolt has had winning seasons in seven of her eight years and has always finished above .500 in conference play, including in this season to date.

Since Nolt took over permanently after the 2015-16 season, the Blue Jays have made the Landmark Conference playoffs six times, and she has garnered conference Coach of the Year awards twice – in 2018-19 and 2021-22. She was also D3hoops.com Region 5 Coach of the Year in 2021-22.

E-town earned its first NCAA tournament victory since 2001 by beating No. 21 Stevens on March 2023 in the first round. In the final poll from that season, E-town was ranked No. 22 to close out the year.

In all, Nolt has coached 15 all-conference selections and four major award winners: two Rookies of the Year, one Player of the Year and one Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

“Coach Nolt and her staff have done an excellent job recruiting quality student athletes for our women’s basketball program,” athletic director Chris Morgan told LebTown in an email. “She works tirelessly, preparing the team for the challenges that they’ll face both on and off the basketball court. We’re extremely proud of the program’s successes under the leadership of Coach Nolt and look forward to an exciting end of this year’s season.”

Nolt said she is proud of the women’s squad being ranked last season in the top 25 in both academics and athletics among the 440-some schools in NCAA’s Division III.

Some of the women on the roster are from schools in the area, such as Lancaster Catholic and Delone Catholic.

“I’ve enjoyed the student athlete we’ve been able to bring in,” Nolt said. “This is definitely a dream job.”

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Paula Wolf worked for 31 years as a general assignment reporter, sports columnist, and editorial writer for LNP Media. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she is a lifetime resident of Lancaster County.

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