By Rob Rains
As he settles into his new job, and his new life, in Oxford, Miss., all Daniel Nicolaisen has to do to know that leaving his job with the Cardinals was the right decision is to take one look at his two young daughters.
“One thousand percent,” he said Saturday in a phone interview.
Nicolaisen resigned from his job as an assistant hitting coach with the Cardinals a couple of weeks ago, but the move did not become public until Friday. He had joined the major-league staff in January after working in the team’s minor league system the previous two years.
While he enjoyed the job, Nicolaisen did not like how much time he had to spend away from his family – prompting the decision to accept a job as an assistant softball coach at the University of Mississippi.
Except for his time as a collegiate baseball player, Nicolaisen, a native of Denmark, had been a softball player or coach most of his life. He was an assistant coach at Seton Hall before he was hired by the Cardinals as a minor-league hitting coach before Covid wiped out the 2020 season.
Nicolaisen said he always thought at some point in his career he would return to coaching softball. He received four legitimate offers this year before accepting the job at Ole Miss.
“It was an extremely tough decision,” Nicolaisen said. “It really had to be perfect. I had a laundry list of things that kind of had to match before I would take that jump and every box was checked.
“I never really saw myself as a hitting coach in the major leagues, more like an analyst or specialist. Being a major-league coach requires you to have a singular purpose and that was a boundary I never saw myself crossing.”
That was because of his wife, Wendi, and 2 ½-year-old daughter Mia and 10-month-old daughter Ivy.
“If you want to do a really great job it becomes a job or the family, especially during the season,” Nicolaisen said. “It was something I was really battling with throughout the season, making those little choices in how you spend your time and what are you going to regret in 20 years.”
So Nicolaisen decided the time was right to make the move, knowing it will be a better life for his family. There were no members of either side of Nicolaisen’s family living in the St. Louis area.
“I am able to live 10 minutes from work, on three acres in a nice peaceful neighborhood,” he said. “There is no way to get around the grind of the major-league season. On the collegiate side you have practice limits. It’s a little easier on how I manage my week.”
Nicolaisen, who said the new job also includes a pay raise from the salary he was making with the Cardinals, also wanted his daughters to be able to enjoy all the benefits of being in a college environment.
“We don’t leave home all fall, we fly charters to the away games and my family can go with me,” he said. “They can come to team events. It’s really a more close-knit family atmosphere.”
Nicolaisen said his intention upon taking the Ole Miss job was to finish out the Cardinals season, which the school was going to allow him to do, before the pressures of the final month of the season forced him to change his mind.
He left before the Cardinals’ recent nine-game road trip, followed by a seven-game homestand and another seven-day, six-game trip.
“It got tougher and tougher on my wife for sure,” Nicolaisen said. “Our oldest started to react (when he left) and I started to realize what was happening with me being away. Then she would react and that makes it tougher on the little one.
“This job just kind of exactly matched what I can see myself doing for 20 years … Since we had our first daughter I knew eventually I would be back in softball.”
To read more about Nicolaisen’s life and journey before joining the Cardinals CLICK HERE to read our story published in March.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Photo courtesy of Daniel Nicolaisen