From Aquinas College Sports Information
By Alex Eisen
Grand Rapids, Mich. — Aquinas College has recently named Matthew Bland the fourth head coach of the AQ women’s hockey program. Bland, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., will be stepping into his first collegiate coaching job after spending the last six years as a head coach/skills coach with the youth developmentally focused Fox Motors Hockey Club.
Bland was there at the beginning when Fox Motors Hockey branched out to included girls hockey team. The Fox Motors Hockey club is well known in the West Michigan area with teams that compete at a wide variety of skill levels and age groups.
“My affiliation with women’s hockey dates to watching my sister grow up in the game,” Bland said. “The importance of my participation escalated with my daughter. Being a part of the start of the Fox Motors Girls Hockey program has made me appreciate the attributes that the women bring to the rink. The camaraderie, thoughtfulness and competitive spirit make it a dream coaching opportunity.”
Prior to joining Fox Motors Hockey club, Bland was a head coach/skills coach with the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association from 2006 to 2017. He was also a sales associate for Hockey Services, a sporting goods store in Kalamazoo, for a year and an half from 2008-09. Bland is a Western Michigan University graduate.
“Matthew will do a great job with our women’s hockey program,” said Claudette Charney, the Interim Director of Athletics at Aquinas. “His enthusiasm and experience coaching women’s hockey makes him well-suited for this role. With his guidance, we are confident that the women’s hockey team will continue to progress by fostering a culture of development and growth.”
Bland is no stranger to the Southside Ice Arena, the home ice for the Aquinas hockey programs, as it’s also the home venue for the Fox Motors Hockey club.
“I have always wanted to test my knowledge, philosophies and leadership skills at the highest level,” Bland said. “I can’t thank Aquinas College enough for affording this opportunity to me. The influence of God and the academic integrity of Aquinas made this the perfect beginning. I look forward to continuing the progress we have made in making Southside Ice Arena the center of women’s hockey for years to come. I am grateful to all my teammates, family, friends and players that have influenced my perspective in this journey to the collegiate level.”
The Saints finished the 2022-23 season with a 8-14-1 record, but ended on a high note with a 1-0 Senior Day victory over Lake Superior State to close out the year. Bland replaces Chris Brassard behind the bench after Brassard coached one full season with the team.
The Aquinas women’s hockey program will embarked on its ninth season as a varsity program this upcoming school year.
(Originally published at https://aqsaints.com/news/2023/7/13/womens-ice-hockey-matthew-bland-named-next-aq-womens-hockey-head-coach.aspx)