Hometown: Austin, TX
What is your background?
The fitness world has been part of my life since the beginning. I grew up in a sports family. Several members of my family played collegiate D1 and D2 sports (football, softball, and track) in the elite conferences (Big 12, SEC). Additionally, my uncle had the honor and athleticism to play football in the National Football League (NFL) for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Because sports are such a huge part of my family, we have this saying, “You’re a Nevels or you’re a (insert last name),” simply meaning we have that athletic gene within us. My family is competitive in all aspects of life, which in turn has made me into the competitive athlete and coach that I am today.
Being a “Nevels,” I played all sports growing up – baseball, softball, basketball, cross-country and track. Once I got to high school, I decided I wanted to further my career in basketball. To this end, you could always find me in the gym shooting, dribbling, running and picking up games… it was a huge commitment of mine. During my senior year, I signed a “National Letter of Intent” and received a full-ride scholarship to play in one of the nation’s most competitive leagues for D1 NJCAA. After two years, I was going to transfer to Austin to play for St. Edwards, but I realized that my love and passion for basketball had switched from playing the game to wanting the tools and knowledge to enhance an athlete’s ability to play the game better. This is when I started my journey to becoming a Strength & Conditioning coach to help other athletes succeed in their sport.
I quickly did research and sought out collegiate Strength & Conditioning coaches I could work for. As eager as I was, I reached out and emailed every big school around me to try and get my foot in the door. While patiently waiting for responses, I was working as a Personal Trainer in Austin at the Frost Bank Tower and commuting back and forth from Austin to Belton, finishing my Bachelors Degree in Exercise Physiology at The University of Mary-Hardin Baylor.
I eventually got an email back from the University of Texas’ Women’s Basketball Head Strength Coach, Shawn McPherson, asking me to meet him at the facility. From then on, it was game time! I spent five years at the University of Texas learning from the best in the Strength & Conditioning / Athletic Performance industry and working with different types of athletes and sports. Those years were some of the toughest on me mentally, physically and financially, but they made me the coach I am today. Those years showed me what it feels like to struggle for what you want. They taught me grit, toughness, relentlessness and how to seek out new knowledge. To be successful and reach your goal, you have to do things others will not, be willing to get uncomfortable, and stay optimistic.
You are also the Director of the Athletic Development & Sports Performance Program. Tell us what you do in that role:
My goal as a coach and director is to ultimately give back. I’m inspired to teach as I once was taught: the importance of the fundamentals, doing things the right way, and the tried and true methods of strength, speed and power in order to help athletes unlock some potential and add to their already great abilities on their field of play.
My goals are to get them away from inappropriate lifting in the weight room, to teach them to enjoy the journey and trust the process of long-term development, and to teach them how to work hard. My priorities are good habits, exponential techniques (to set them up for long-term success), competence in the weight room, and good daily eating habits to help complement what we’re doing in the weight room. All while producing robust and resilient athletes who can withstand the many demands of their game.
As Director of the Athletic Development & Performance Training program, I feel I’m in the position to start teaching other coaches and colleagues the fundamentals of training, the whys and the hows to help them become better coaches.
Tell us about your current fitness goals and training:
My current fitness goals are always changing because I am a coach who preaches variability. I have this saying I got from my mentor that I use all the time, “stay ready club.” Which means being prepared for any physical task, wherever and whenever. I am always gonna be ready. Currently I am STILL doing that. Nothing changes except the method I chose to go about it. Lift heavy? Yes. Lift with moderate intensity for higher volume? Yes. Lift for strength speed? Olympic lifts and variations with dumbbells? Yes and yes. Am I going to jump from implements, hop from left foot to the right foot and be explosive with it? You betcha! Am I going to sprint for 30 yards or push a sled with extreme force into the ground? Of course! Am I going to throw or slam a medicine ball into the wall or ground as hard as I possibly can? Who wouldn’t!? Am I going to run in a continuous effort from time to time? Yes.
I do it all, in different forms, in different fashions and at different loads and speeds. My current fitness goal is to stay at peak fitness and in shape for life and everything that comes with it.
What is the most common fitness myth you work through with your clients?
Most common fitness myth is what our society is putting out there in the world – on TV, in magazines and on social media on what fitness is or what the industry is about. Our society is distorting the truth on what fitness and health looks like in reality and to general people. And in return, that is making the true professionals’ jobs in the industry harder than they really need to be.
Another myth in the fitness industry is that a weekend certification will make you a great coach. It does not. The general public does not know this, so they hire anyone without doing research. It is those weekend warriors or IG fitness trainers who make the jobs of true professionals harder than they need to be. There are so many gimmicks out there on social media these days that the true principles of training get overlooked.
What do you want your clients to take away from each training session with you?
The two things I want my clients to take away from training sessions with me are:
- I am not here to just physically exhaust you and tax you. That is not what fitness is all about or how to make your body adapt and keep going. We are here to give you the minimum effective dose your body needs to provide the greatest amount of stimulus needed to get an adaption. So guess what that means? You can come back the next day and the next day and everything will be all right. Then all of a sudden, training 4 or 5 times a week isn’t hurting your body, if you’re doing it correctly. The key is frequency of training. Keeping your body up and going. The key is to be able to adapt and sustain without stressing the body too much. Because then what? We break. ….. “Training is efficient if the highest result is achieved with the least expense of time and energy.”
- I am a coach. Which really means I am a teacher. My goal is to educate you so that once you leave the session you know exactly why we did everything we did and why we did it a certain way for YOU. My goal is to give my clients the confidence to navigate the weight room. Whether that is me asking your input on what lower body movement you want to do or what helps you connect to your body the most. And that choice is a lot. My goal is to give you the tools to continue training even when you are not in my sight.
What sets you apart from other fitness professionals?
What sets me apart is my worth ethic, my extreme attention to detail and my desire to be the best coach possible. My passion won’t let me quit. My passion won’t let me not be the best. My passion and pride in this field and who I’ve learned under sets me apart because I do not want to fail those who have spent so much time helping mold me into the coach I am today. I have a “go-getter” and a “hustler” mentality.
What is your favorite thing about Austin Simply Fit?
The greatest thing about ASF is my boss/owner, Krista. The difference between having a great boss and not-so-good boss is 10 fold. It makes my work life an incredibly enjoyable experience. I am excited to come to work everyday – I am at the gym more than I am at my house because I love my job, it’s my passion. I also really appreciate that Krista (who is also my training partner) has entrusted me to build a performance program. I could not ask for anything better.
Who is your hero & why?
Kobe Bryant. If you know what Kobe Bryant was about and you know me, this makes perfect sense. He is my favorite because he is a Top 5 G.O.A.T., and quite simply, he put in work to better his craft. His mentality is what made him great and what drew me to him. He was who he was because of his dedication and he expected no less from others. R.I.P Bean
B.A. Science | B.S. Exercise Science | CSCS | PICP L1 & L2 | USAW L1 & L2 | RPR L1 & L2 | NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist | National Council on Strength & Fitness | Certified Personal Trainer | CCC – Certified Conditioning Coach
WORKING WITH SIERRA
Coach Nevels is a one of a kind coach. Her ability to get her athletes to buy in into the training process is second to none. She uses evidence based training methods to help athletes reach their highest potential. She is committed to the long term development of every athlete she works with. If you’re in the Austin area you need to be training with Sierra.
Coach Nevels has developed into one of the most innovative minds in the Austin area. She has and will continue to enhance the field of athletic performance and training. She is dedicated, focused and meticulous with her program design and coaching. Coach Nevels has proven to develop and impact student-athletes from all over the state of Texas and beyond.
Donnie Maib: Assistant Athletics Director of Athletic Performance Olympic Sports, The University of Texas
Sierra’s passion for coaching, teaching and helping athletes get better is second to none. She truly lives what she teaches and working with her will help you get to the next level!
Nneka Enemkpali: Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach, The University of Southern California and former WNBA player
What a pleasure it was working with Sierra (as a collegiate athlete at The University of Texas). I felt confident in her ability and loved how each workout was personally crafted to address my growth areas while increasing my performance on the court. Sierra’s expertise and passion is undoubtable seen in her coaching style. She is a student of her craft and has a hunger to acquire information, which will be to the benefit of anyone lucky to train with her.
Jill Costanza: Sports Science Director and Strength & Conditioning Coach, Detroit Lions
Coach Nevels is innovative in her training techniques and understands the “Why” behind everything she implements with her athletes. Unlike so many other coaches, Sierra has a sound understanding of science and programming theory. Not to mention, her personality easily connects with athletes and she gets the best out of them! A trustworthy and dependable coach, she has the soft skills to match her expertise.
Courtney Walden: Women’s Basketball and Softball Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, The University of Oregon
If you’re in the Austin, TX area and NOT training with Coach Nevels… you’re making a mistake. She truly works on the development of athletes and prepares them to be, not only durable, but top performers in their sport! Her skill set, work ethic and character are a dangerous combination for high level success. The more time she spends with an athlete the better. Run, don’t walk, to get in the gym with Coach Nevels.
I had the pleasure of working with Sierra when I first got into the field of strength & conditioning as a graduate assistant. During our time together at Texas, she taught me that your work ethic can never be questioned by anyone and that you need to have a great understanding of EVERYTHING that’s going on during each lifting session if you want to become a great coach & get the buy-in of the athletes.
Sierra is extremely passionate about what she does & you can see how much of an impact Sierra has on the athletes she works with. Regardless of the sport you play, Sierra’s ability to individualize your program based on your strengths & weaknesses, along with the demands of your sport, allows
you to get the best training experience possible.
If you are in the Austin area, there is no question that Sierra is who you need to be working with. Your program will fit what YOU need as an athlete, you will get the results you’re looking for and you will have fun during the entire process!
Danny Wardell: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Women’s Basketball, University of Arlington and The Dallas Wings (WNBA)
I have had the opportunity to know Sierra for many years now. Her passion, energy and enthusiasm for Strength and Conditioning is unmatched. If you are an athlete in the Austin area, I highly recommend working with Sierra. She has the ability and skill set to tailor training to your sport, position and goals. Whether you’re a high school, college or professional athlete, Sierra is who you need to train with.
Stephen Brindle: Associate Strength & Conditioning Coach Men’s Basketball and Soccer, The University of Penn
Coach Nevels is an outstanding coach and someone who is hungry for knowledge. She continuously stays up to date on the most cutting-edge training methods that will be productive for her athletes. On top of that, she practices what she preaches through proper training on her own. In other words, she knows exactly what her athletes are experiencing during training sessions because she’s done the training sessions herself! Coach Nevels consistently provides her athletes with proper programming and detailed coaching to help her athletes perform well on the field and reduce the likelihood of injury. I frequently run ideas by her to see her thought process on different types of training methods.
If she were in the Pennsylvania area, I would hire her as part of my staff. I’ve had plenty of productive discussions with her regarding the best practices in strength and conditioning.
Dominick Walker: Men’s Basketball Strength & Conditioning Coach, Mississippi State
Coach Nevels is an exceptional coach and even better person! I’ve known her for years, and she has continued to grow and improve her craft. Coach Nevels’ willingness to learn, research, and apply multiple methods of training has allowed her to get the best out of her athletes. More importantly, she puts the person first and understands that there is more to life than sports; her coaching also teaches life lessons that will have an impact in the present and future.
Over the past 6 years I have witnessed Coach Nevels transform herself professionally and personally. She in my opinion is one of the most up and coming strength coaches in Austin, Texas. Watching her dedicate herself to the youth in Austin is inspiring for our field.
Carlos Daniel: Men’s Basketball Strength & Conditioning Coach, Vanderbilt University. Former NBA Strength Coach
Coach Nevels is someone I admire and respect. During our time working together at the University of Texas, she showed me dedication to her craft and the athletes she served. She always took the time to listen and learn which makes her a special coach and enhances her ability to create unique programs for her athletes that address their physical aspirations and needs. Coach Nevels is more than a coach, she is learner and teacher which makes her a great performance trainer and mentor for athletes.
Tina Thompson: Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Virginia. Former WNBA player, WNBA Hall of Fame Inductee, Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Inductee, and 1st College Draft Pick in WNBA history.
Working with Sierra was an absolute pleasure. What stood out the most was her willingness to work and gain knowledge in all areas of her craft. Her proactivity was clear and present everyday. Our girls got better simply because of the professionalism and commitment of our strength staff, Sierra was an essential member of that staff!
Anthony Kincy: Assistant Football Strength & Conditioning Coach, Auburn University
I’ve had to pleasure of getting to know Coach Nevels for several years now and her passion in the field is unreal! Her willingness to sharpen her skills and constantly seek ways to improve her athletes performance/skill set on all levels is admirable! A hands on coach with attention to details, applicable training methods, as well as being a former collegiate athlete with training experience herself, sets her apart from many coaches out there! She truly has her athletes best interest at heart! I value our friendship due to how serious she takes pride in her work!
Shaun McPherson: Senior Territory Sales Representative – PowerLift Equipment & 19-year career as a Division 1 Collegiate Coach
Sierra’s continued success in both the public and private sector is a testament to her unwavering desire to constantly grow as a strength and conditioning professional while serving with me at The University of Texas. Her passion to help young people was and continues to be evident in her tireless work ethic, endless enthusiasm, and relentless pursuit of excellence in all that she does.
Sierra is confident with who she is as a sports performance coach and she projects that same confidence into her teaching. A real-life example that, “Hard Work Pays Off!”