Van Nickert returned as an assistant coach on the Hornet football staff in 2005 after serving as head coach in 2004.
Nickert served the Hornets as an assistant coach for 21 seasons prior to taking over the helm in 2004. He has served in numerous roles, including defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. Nickert was defensive coordinator from 2000-2003.
As offensive coordinator in 2009, Nickert guided a Hornet offense that set three school records as a team and 19 individual offensive records. The Hornets led the nation (NCAA III) in passing offense with 382.3 yards per game, were ranked 14th in total offense (449.5 yards/game) and 74th in scoring offense (28.8 points/game). Kalamazoo also led the MIAA with 343.3 passing yards per league game. The offense produced some of the nation's top quarterbacks and receivers: Brandon Luczak '10 led the nation in passing yards per game (366.3) and total offense (381.8 yards/game). He also ranked second with 32.2 completions per game and fourth with 3,663 total passing yards. Jimmy Semelsberger '10 ranked fourth in the nation with 9.6 receptions per game and 14th with 111.6 receiving yards per game. Cory McCain '11 was 18th in the nation with 107.67 receiving yards per game and third in the nation with 12.67 points per game.
In 2010, the Hornets led the MIAA and ranked 25th in the country in passing offense while also ranking 43rd in total offense.
As defensive coordinator in 2003, Nickert led the league's top-ranked defense. The Hornets led the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in scoring defense (18.5 points/game), rushing defense (120.5 yards/game), total defense (291.4 yards/game), fewest opponent first downs (16.1 per game), opponent’s fourth-down conversion success (26.9 percent), and opponent’s third-down conversion success (34.1 percent). The Hornets were second in pass defense (170.9 yards/game), pass defense efficiency (103.1), and sacks (2.3 per game). The Hornets were third in red zone defense. Out of 225 NCAA Division III schools, Kalamazoo ranked 43rd in total defense, 48th in rushing defense, 59th in pass efficiency defense, and 58th in scoring defense.
Nickert graduated from Western Michigan University in 1981 with a degree in education.
In addition to serving as an assistant football coach, Nickert is the College’s equipment manager and director of the intramural program.
Van and his wife, Lana, reside in Kalamazoo with their daughters, Allison and Haley.