Nao Ikeda enters her 17th year with the Minnesota volleyball program and her 11th year as the director of operations. In her role, Ikeda is the program's travel coordinator, the day-to-day program organizer and the liaison to academic counseling, athletic training, marketing and promotions, and the Golddiggers booster club.She assists and supports the program's technical evaluation effort, by using state-of-the-art digital computer equipment, and helps with video exchange. Arriving with former Gopher Mike Hebert, Ikeda has continued on with the current volleyball staff since Hebert's retirement in 2010.
Ikeda has had a good deal of experience with international volleyball programs and events. In 2008, she served as a manager and translator for the U.S. Men's Junior National team and was part of the training camp for the Japanese Men's National Team in their preparation for their qualification for the 2008 Olympics.
In the summer of 2006, she helped out the U.S. and Japan National Teams in a two-match exhibition in the World Volleyball League at the Target Center. She was also an intern with the U.S. Men's National Team in 2005 for two months, helping them with stats, assisting the team in practice, and traveling with the team. In the past, Ikeda has traveled with the U.S. Women's National Team in a similar role. She has also worked in Canada Cups, where the Japan National Team participated, as a translator.
In her first four years at Minnesota, Ikeda served as the second assistant coach for the Gophers. Ikeda worked in the same capacity at Illinois for two years, giving her six years of experience as an assistant coach under Mike Hebert.
Prior to joining Hebert's staff at Illinois, Ikeda served as an assistant coach at Wichita State for two seasons. While in Wichita, she was the head coach of the Air Capitals Juniors 18 club team and worked on the summer volleyball clinic staff. In 1991-92, Ikeda was the event manager and administrative assistant for the New Mexico women's volleyball team, while serving as the junior varsity head coach at Albuquerque Academy High School and league manager of the Lobo Volleyball League. She was also a part-time assistant coach at New Mexico in 1990.
A native of Tokyo, Japan, Ikeda received her bachelor's degree in general studies with a concentration in economics and family studies from New Mexico in 1990. As a player at New Mexico, she was a starter from 1986-89 and a four-time all-conference player in the High Country Athletic Conference, as well as being named the 1986 High Country Defensive Player of the Year. Ikeda was a co-captain and all-region selection in 1989, the second of her two all-region awards. Ikeda will be inducted into the New Mexico Athletics Hall of Fame this September.
She was a member of the Hitachi Volleyball Team, the best team in the Japanese Volleyball League in Tokyo, from 1983-86. She was also a member of the 1984 Japanese Junior National Team.
In November of 2011, Ikeda was married to Daniel Sanchez, a native of Mexico City. Ikeda and her husband, avid salsa dancers, reside in Minneapolis.