U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Capt. Nick Welch has been assigned as an assistant coach for the Air Force men's basketball program, according to head coach Dave Pilipovich. Welch joins the Falcon coaching staff after spending four years at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana as an aircraft maintenance officer and two at Los Angeles Air Force Base as an acquisition program manager for IIF GPS Satellites since his graduation from the Academy in 2007.
"We are thrilled that Nick is rejoining the Air Force basketball program," said Pilipovich. "To have a player and officer of his caliber come back and work with our players will be a great benefit to our team as well as the athletic department."
Welch, who earned his bachelor’s degree in economics, enjoyed a stellar basketball career with the Falcons. A four-year letterwinner, he is No. 14 on AFA’s career scoring list with 1,109 points and 10th on the school’s assist list with 255. Welch, who is tied for ninth with 116 career games played, started the last 93 games he played in as a Falcon.
He took the Mountain West Conference by storm as a sophomore in 2003-04 when he was named co-player of the year and an honorable mention All-American by The Associated Press. He led Air Force to the regular-season conference championship and first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1962. Welch paced the team in scoring (11.4 ppg), rebounding (4.0 rpg), steals (40) and finished second with 80 assists while shooting 54.2 percent (117-216) from the field.
In his 14 league games that season, Welch averaged 13.6 points and 3.9 rebounds and shot 55.7 percent from the field en route to becoming Air Force first and only conference player of the year. He scored in double figures in all 14 games and led the Falcons to a 12-2 record in Mountain West play before falling to North Carolina, 63-52, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Welch averaged 12 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as a junior in 2004-05, earning second-team all-conference honors and leading the Falcons to an 18-12 record. An ankle injury sidelined him for the entire ’05-06 campaign, but he was granted a medical turnback by the Academy and helped the Falcons to a school-record 26 wins, a national ranking of No. 11 and a trip to New York City for the NIT semifinals as a senior in ’06-07. He scored a career-high 20 points three different times in his career and pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds, in addition to scoring 17 points, for the only double-double of his career in a 94-58 victory over Wake Forest during his senior campaign.
Welch, who helped Air Force capture 78 victories during his four years on the court, joined classmates Jacob Burtschi and Dan Nwaelele on the all-Air Force team that captured the gold medal at the 2008 Armed Forces Basketball Championships. He also won a gold medal and was named to the all-tournament team at the 2012 Armed Forces Championships and captured a silver medal for the USA all-Armed Forces team at the 2012 SHAPE International Basketball Championships in SHAPE, Belgium.
Welch, 30, and his wife Annie, a former volleyball player at the University of Wyoming, are the proud parents of three sons, Nick, Jr. (4), J.J. (2) and Luke (1).