08/01/2014 – Aquinas College is pleased to announce the hiring of Katie O’Brien to serve as the head coach of its inaugural women’s ice hockey program. Slated to begin play in the fall of 2015 the Saints will compete in the highly competitive Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association (CCWHA) along with local league members Grand Valley State University and Davenport University.
During her playing career O’Brien 29, a native of East Grand Rapids, progressed through the levels of the Grand Rapids Amateur Hockey Association (GRAHA) followed by stops in the Detroit area with Belle Tire AAA and Honey Baked AAA - where she helped capture a state championship in 2004. She then capped her competitive career at the NCAA D3 level with Finlandia University from 2004 - 2006. O’Brien then returned to the Grand Rapids area and has been coaching in the Girls GRAHA ranks for the past eight years which included a girls 16U AA State Championship in 2013. In addition to her head coaching duties O’Brien has attained a Level 4 USA Hockey Coaching Certification and has served as a bench coach and head instructor at the regional and national levels with USA Hockey.
“Our coaching search generated interest not only at the local level, but really from the around the state and beyond”, commented Aquinas College Men’s Head Coach Mark VanVliet, “but from the very beginning Katie stood out as both highly qualified as well as someone who has a real understanding of girl’s hockey state wide”. Added VanVliet, “we feel fortunate to have someone with Katie’s ability and determination to launch our women’s hockey program”.
Although the “Lady Saints” are not scheduled to begin play until the 2015 – 2016 school year, O’Brien will keep busy as she continues to serve as head coach of the girls GRAHA U16 AA and 19U AA programs as well as ramping up her recruiting efforts for Aquinas. “It’s an honor to be named Head Coach of the Aquinas College Women’s Hockey Program, and I look forward to the challenge of building a program that represents the integrity and spirit of Aquinas College athletics,” explained O’Brien.
Athletic Director Terry Bocian added, "We are excited that Katie O'Brien is coming aboard as our women's hockey coach. She has a great hockey background as a player and coach. She knows Aquinas College, the Grand Rapids area and the hockey arena in the Midwest."