Through his first five years at UMBC, head coach Ian Blanchard has racked up the hardware while building the Retriever volleyball program into a perennial contender for the America East Championship.
In his first season, Blanchard’s star freshman, Sarah Ball, was honored with the America East Conference Rookie of the Year award, becoming the Retrievers’ first-ever recipient since joining the league in 2003. During that inaugural season, Blanchard also coached Ball to seven conference Rookie of the Week awards, the most honors by a freshman in America East history at the time.
One year later, Blanchard’s new blood achieved the same feat. This time it was Ashley Oscars who received the Rookie of the Year award and earned seven Rookie of the Week honors, tying Ball’s record.
The accomplishments didn’t end there, however, as Blanchard led the Retrievers to their first-ever appearance in the America East Conference Championship and their first postseason competition since 2002, when they competed in the Northeast Conference Tournament. Ultimately, the Retrievers ended up in the America East title game where they fell to Albany after a hard-fought five-set match. UMBC posted a record of 16-15 in the process, its first winning season since 2002.
A year later, Blanchard coached the 2007 squad to a 20-12 overall record, the first time the Retrievers have recorded 20 wins in a season since notching 22 in 1998.
In 2008, the Retrievers returned to the America East Conference Championship after going 18-13, their third consecutive winning season. Alyssa Lang became the third Retreiver to win Rookie of the Year under Blanchard, and she won a conference-record eight Rookie of the Week awards. In addition, Ball earned both America East All-Academic and CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors.
Last year, UMBC qualified for the conference tournament for the third time in four years, finishing with a record of 13-13 after travelling to a couple of difficult tournaments in Southern California at Long Beach State and UC-Irvine and as well as at Villanova. In addidtion, Naomi Bush became the fourth conference Rookie of the Year under Blanchard’s tenure.
Blanchard’s athletes are also rewriting the UMBC record books, with seven players accounting for 11 single-season top-10 marks and 11 players placing their names on the all-time career records charts during Blanchard’s tenure.
With three America East Championship appearances under his belt, Blanchard will look to add another milestone to his list in 2010 by claiming the America East crown.
Blanchard began coaching at the collegiate level as an assistant coach at Towson University two years prior to coming to UMBC. During his tenure at Towson, He was very instrumental in the growth of the Tigers’ program as the first assistant and recruiting coordinator. Blanchard recruited talented student-athletes both on a local and national level, leading to an NCAA Tournament appearance by the program in 2004.
Prior to Towson University, Blanchard spent the 2002 season at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville as the head women’s volleyball coach, leading the program to a 24-5 overall record. Blanchard’s team went 12-0 in the conference and ranked 11th in the nation at the NJCAA Division II level, and he was honored with NJCAA Region F and Maryland JuCo Coach of the Year accolades.
In addition to his collegiate experience, Blanchard has made a name for himself at the USAV Club level, directing the Orange Crush of the Time Out Volleyball Club for eight seasons from 1997-2004. Blanchard’s team went undefeated in the USAV Chesapeake Region from 2000-04 and placed fifth in 2003 and third in 2004 at the USAV National Championships.
Blanchard is a former social studies teacher at Dulaney High School, where he coached the Baltimore County squad to a 90-6 record between 1997-2001, winning back-to-back state titles in 1999 and 2000 and making four consecutive Final Four appearances in the state tournament. Blanchard was named Maryland State Coach of the Year for 2001-02 and Baltimore Sun Metropolitan Coach of the Year in 1999.
A native of Massachusettes, Blanchard earned a bachelor of arts in mass communications from Westfield State College in 1988, and was a four-year member of Westfield State’s men’s volleyball team. Blanchard went on to earn his education certification from the University of Massachusetts in 1992. Blanchard is certified with USAV Coaching Accreditation Program I & II.
Blanchard lives with his wife, Lauren, and their two children, Chase (10) and Reese (7), in Phoenix, Md.