When Jen Nichols-Hogle took over the Alden-Hebron girls basketball program last year, she told athletic director John Lalor there were only two things that would take her away.
A chance to coach at the college level or to go home to Woodstock.
But that, Nichols-Hogle assured her new boss, wouldn't happen for several years. It ended up happening much faster.
The former Woodstock guard, who graduated in 2006, was hired to take over the Blue Streaks program on Monday. On Tuesday, she broke the news to an Alden-Hebron team that went 13-10 in its only season under Nichols-Hogle.
"I never, in my mind, imagined that (Woodstock) would open up so quickly," Nichols-Hogle said Tuesday night. "But it was a very difficult decision. It wasn't something that was an automatic decision. It was not easy at all."
When she met with her A-H players Tuesday, Nichols-Hogle kept going back to the fact that she never expected things to work out like they did. But the chance to return to her alma mater was something she always dreamed of.
"I can't pass up an opportunity that's going to put me back at home," she told her players.
Nichols-Hogle replaces Marty Hammond, whose contract was not renewed by Woodstock in March. After playing for the Blue Streaks, Nichols-Hogle played for four years at the University of Dubuque.
“Jen will bring a vitality, conscientiousness and spirit that will benefit our program and blend well with our girls basketball culture,” Woodstock athletic director Glen Wilson said in a press release.
After college, Nichols-Hogle returned to Woodstock, volunteering at summer camps and helping out where she could. Now back in a familar setting as the face of her Woodstock's varsity program, Nichols-Hogle says she doesn't have any plans to leave anytime soon.
"I think it's about going back to a place where my heart has always been," she said. "Playing there for the four years that I did, it feels like the right fit. It always has. It's a school I was never actually able to turn and walk away from.
"So when the opportunity came up to actually coach there, it just seemed right."