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Women's Hockey

Mark VanVliet, Katie O'Brien, Terry Bocian
Head Coach: Katie O'Brien (1st year)
2015-16 Record: 0-0

Home Ice: South Side Arena

566 100th Street, Byron Center, MI 49315

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Aquinas College Adding Women’s Hockey for 2015-2016

Aquinas College is announcing the addition of women’s ice hockey to its intercollegiate athletic opportunities beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

The women’s program will become a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I sanctioned programs. Aquinas will join the highly competitive Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association (CCWHA) which boasts well known schools such as Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Central Michigan University, Northern Michigan University and local members Grand Valley State and Davenport.

The announcement of the women’s hockey program comes on the heels of the successful initiation of men’s hockey at the College. Athletic Director, Terry Bocian states, “The implementation of men’s hockey at the College has gone much smoother than we could have imagined. This opened the discussion on women’s hockey.” Current Saints’ Head Coach Mark VanVliet was selected to transition men’s hockey to ACHA status and will have similar responsibilities with the women’s program. “I look forward to becoming involved in the process of building a women’s hockey program at Aquinas College for talented young women who are looking for a quality education and an opportunity to be part of high-level hockey experience,” stated Coach VanVliet.

The goal of the athletic department is to have the entire women’s coaching staff on board for the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. This will allow for student recruitment, program implementation and league agenda’s to be fully in place. “We are excited about the opportunity to enhance our sports offerings, allowing for student recruitment in new areas that offer women’s hockey and have our two hockey programs work together to build an on-ice tradition,” said Athletic Director Terry Bocian.

Katie O'Brien Named Women's Ice Hockey Coach

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,” said 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."