Lake Land softball coach Nic Nelson had been concerned about one of his program’s long-time supporters, Angelo’s Pizza in Mattoon.

Like all restaurants in Illinois, the Italian eatery on Lake Land Boulevard had been unable to seat customers inside for several months. So the owners started developing ways to offer service outside.

That’s where Nelson stepped in.

The Lakers’ all-time winningest coach built dividers out of old hitting screens and aluminum posts so the owners could partition an area where they could start hosting diners outside.

“We want to support those who have supported us,” Nelson said.

Nelson also calls the restaurant his Cheers, the fictional bar in the eponymous sitcom popular in the 1980s. Nelson actually visits Angelo’s as frequently as Norm, often just to escape campus, eat lunch and relax.

Several customers popped in Monday afternoon, the first day Angelo’s opened the outside area.

Co-owner Bill Boyle said that he expects the expansion to help during the national shutdown, which had been prompted by health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve always had a good relationship with Lake Land athletics,” Boyle said.

Nelson explains his reasons for helping out in the interview below.