Through his first seven 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 in 2005, 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 recorded 20 wins in a season since notching 22 in 1998.
Blanchard led the Retrievers back to the conference tournament in 2008 and 2009, with Ball earning both America East All-Academic and CoSIDA Academic All-District honors and Alyssa Lang and Naomi Bush taking home conference Rookie of the Year awards. Lang won a conference-record eight Rookie of the Week honors during her freshman year in 2008.
In 2010, the Retrievers started slow, but Blanchard and his young squad bounced back and advanced to the America East final for the first time since 2006. Sabrina Hoeks earned All-Conference First Team honors, while Allie Spaay was named to the Second Team.
A year ago, Blanchard guided the Retrievers past perenially ranked UC-Riverside early in the year and then back to the America East Championships for a school record fourth consecutive season. In addition, freshman Dalton Tolliver was named the conference Rookie of the Year, giving UMBC five freshman awards in Blanchard's first seven season.
Blanchard’s athletes are also rewriting the UMBC record books, with eight players accounting for 13 single-season top-10 marks and 13 players placing their names on the all-time career records charts during Blanchard’s tenure.
With five America East Championship appearances under his belt, Blanchard will look to add another milestone to his list in 2012 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 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 was ranked 11th in the nation at the NJCAA Division II level. In addition, 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 Massachusetts, 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 (11) and Reese (8), in Phoenix, Md.