Camp Director & Head Soccer Coach
After wrapping up another sensational season at the helm of the Rice Soccer program in 2016, head coach Nicky Adams continues to lead the owls with a passion for the world's most popular game and commitment to the school's student-athletes. Adams is unique example where a person's vocation and avocation are one-and-the-same.
In six full seasons as the head coach, and 14 years at Rice University overall, Adams has built a solid 68-24-20 record. Quickly amassing a career ledger that is 24 games over .500 is a result of combining technical expertise with the care of dedicated preparation for each and every match.
Her 2016 squad reached the double digit win plateau for the third straight year (and fifth in six seasons). On the way to a school record-tying seven straight wins late in the year, the owls enjoyed one of the longest unbeaten streaks in the country to earn the No. 2 seed in the Conference USA Tournament. Three players earned All- Central NSCAA Region honors. Adams has developed at least one Rice player to all-region accolades in every year she has been a head coach.
No less than six Owls earned CUSA postseason playing honors in 2015. including standout Lauren Hughes as the league's Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Under Adams's soccer training regimen, Hughes rewrote almost each of the school's offensive records before signing a professional contract to play soccer internationally. Hughes had the kind of year that was all too reminiscent of the seasons Adams had while earning All American honors playing at Texas A&M in the late 90's. In the fall of 2015 Adams sensational collegiate playing career was celebrated with her induction into her alma mater's Athletics Hall of Fame.
It is no surprise that one of Adams best coaching years in 2014 is also among the very best in the history of the Rice Soccer Program. Her 2014 squad won the C-USA Tournament Title, advanced to the NCAA Championships, and tied the school record with 14 wins. She was the Conference USA Coach of the year in a landslide, but there was still a little more to the beyond playing a championship level of soccer. Under Adams direction, the 2014 Owls were also recognized by the NSCAA for having one the best team grade point averages in the entire country. Furthermore, it was an Adams recruited and coached player, Gabriela Iribarne, who was recognized by the C-USA Commissioner for having the best community service initiative this semester.
In fact win, lose or draw Adams influence on Rice soccer's on community service is clear to see. In her tenure three Owls (Iribarne, Kara Dugall and Elizabeth Nesbit) have all won the C-USA Spirit of Service Award for their respective Volunteer/outreach work.
The 2013 squad's combination of having some key seniors graduate along with an eye-opening number of season-ending injuries was a challenge to be sure, but it also might have showcased some of Adams' best coaching yet. Even when injuries limited the Owls' available playing personnel to a point where the head coach had to improvise and begin training a student-athlete off the Rice track team, her leadership and resolve was stronger than ever. By getting everyone to pull together she coached the team to an unbeaten mark in its last three regular season games to qualify for the conference tournament. Her Owls also nearly pulled off the upset of the league's eventual regular season champion and NCAA participant (Colorado College), only to be edged in overtime. At the end of the year she had coached three players to first team all-conference honors, two of which went on to earn all-Central region accolades.
Adams' influence on Rice soccer is clear. In her second year at the helm of the program in 2012, a young Owls squad won the Conference USA regular season title. It marked the first regular season conference championship in the history of the soccer program and the accompanying 11 victories was Rice's highest single-season win total in five years.
In Adams' first full season at the helm of the program in 2011, Rice soccer posted a tie against nationally-ranked BYU (on the road) on the way to the program's first double-digit win total in three years. The Owls won a game in the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2007, and in fact went undefeated in the tourney before a tie in the semifinal round was decided by penalty kicks. Adams coached four Rice players to all-conference honors and one to all-region status. Two Owls were named to the C-USA all-academic team and as a group the entire team's cumulative grade point average was ranked among the 25 best in the nation.
Adams is only the second head coach in the history of the Rice soccer program. The El Paso native and former All-America player at Texas A&M had worked on the Rice coaching staff for eight seasons when she was named the program's Interim Head Coach for the final 13 games of 2010. Adams was officially promoted to Rice Head Coach on November 15, 2010 (which was extra-special for Adams as the announcement was made on her birthday).
When the University appointed her the interim head coach seven games into the 2010 season she proceeded to lead the Owls to their best conference start in school history at 5-0-1. Rice went on to qualify for the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2008 with its highest seed in that event since 2007. With Adams at the helm for all 11 C-USA league games, four Owls earned all-conference honors and three were named to the conference All-Academic team.
Her long influence on the program shows the promotion was earned. Since she joined the staff in January 2003 Rice soccer has been at its best. Adams' lead as the recruiting coordinator, identifying the nation's top young student-athletes on the field and in the classroom, has helped Rice earn national recognition for its signing classes. The most recent signing class from the spring of 2010 was among the top tier of the central region, a near-perfect compliment to the 2008 and 2007 classes that were rated among the best in Conference USA. With Adam's personal attention, there's every reason to expect the Rice recruiting to continue to get better and better.
In her first season as associate head coach in 2006, Adams' expanded role resulted in the Owls posting their first-ever win over a Top 10 opponent. The program soon earned its first-ever national ranking in 2006.
With Adams on board Rice won the 2005 Conference USA championship and made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The team has played in the championship game of its conference tournament in three of her six years with the Blue and Gray.
Right from the start the Owls won as many games in Adams' first year (11 in 2003) as the program did in its first two years combined. The Rice win total climbed to a school record 14 victories in 2004, but that's not all. Rice advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and set a host of team and individual records.
As a member of the Texas A&M teams that won the Big 12 championship in 1997 and Big 12 Tournament titles in `97 and 2001, the former Nicky Thrasher finished her career near the top of virtually every Aggie offensive category.
One of A&M's most decorated players of all time, the El Paso native ranks third in career points (140), second in goals (57) and fifth in assists (26) for the Aggies, and her 391 shots rank as the most in Texas A&M history. She was nominated for the Herman Trophy as the Division I women's soccer player of the year in both 1999 and 2001.
In her first three years with the Aggies, Thrasher emerged as the team's main offensive threat and one of the best forwards in the country. She earned first-team NSCAA all-Central Region honors in 1998 and `99, along with being named to the first team all-Big 12 in `99. Also, Thrasher was the Big 12 Tournament's most valuable player in `98 and was named the Aggies' offensive MVP on three occasions.
In 2001, Thrasher returned from a medical redshirt for a magical senior season. Coming off a broken leg suffered three games into the 2000 campaign, Thrasher led A&M through the Big 12 Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament before falling to Portland in the Elite Eight. She again earned all-region, all-conference and team MVP honors for her efforts in 2001, but this time she also included NSCAA third-team all-America honors to her distinguished list of accolades.
Thrasher graduated from Texas A&M in 2001 with a B.S. in kinesiology. Prior to joining the Owls, Thrasher was the second selection of the Atlanta Beat of the Women's United Soccer Association in the league's 2002 draft, even appearing with the Beat as it took on the Washington Freedom Oct. 19, 2002, at Rice Track/Soccer Stadium in the Space City Shootout.
She married Charlie Adams of New Braunfels, Texas, in June of 2005. The couple have one child, Cade, who was born March 2017.
Assistant Camp Director & Assistant Soccer Coach-Rice University
Kelly Madsen has joined the Rice soccer staff as an assistant coach, Owl head coach Nicky Adams announced on Monday (February 5).
Saylor joins Rice from Mercer University where he worked the last four seasons as the goalkeepers’ coach and recruiting coordinator. His myriad duties with the Bears also included assisting with tactical preparations and scouting of opponents, as well as helping oversee the academic progress of the student-athletes.
"We are very excited to have Brenton join our staff,” coach Adams said. “Brenton brings a wealth of knowledge and energy to Rice. He will be working will all our players, but also utilize his experience with our goalkeepers. I cannot wait to introduce him to the team and get to work."
Last season under Saylor the Mercer goalkeepers posted six shutouts and tied for second in the Southern Conference for fewest goals allowed (19 in 21 matches). The Bears were third in the league with 110 saves and a 0.85 goals-against average. Saylor coached senior keeper Maggie Cropp to all-conference honors. In 2014 he coached Cropp to earning the league’s tournament MVP to help the Bears win their first-ever Southern Conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history.
Prior to Mercer, Saylor was the top assistant at Eastern Kentucky from 2010-2012. In that time he also served as the Academy Director of the Madison United Soccer Association. Saylor worked a graduate assistant coach on the women’s soccer team at the University of Tennessee at Martin from 2008-2010.
Before pursuing a career in coaching, Saylor was the starting goalkeeper at Lambuth University from 2004-07. During his stellar collegiate career, Saylor was an honorable mention NAIA All-American, an NAIA All-Region selection and Lambuth’s 2007 Male Athlete of the Year. He helped lead the Eagles to a Trans-South Conference Championship.
A native of Lincoln, Ill., Saylor earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management from Lambuth in 2008 and finished his master’s degree in education with an emphasis on health and human performance at UT-Martin in December of 2013.