Rolf van de Kerkhof continues to lead the University of Delaware field hockey program to national prominence as he is in his fifth season as the team’s head coach.
Hired in December 2010, Van de Kerkhof (pronounced ‘van—duh—kirk—off’) is just the sixth head coach in the history of Delaware field hockey and holds an all-time record of 47-37 (.560) on the turf with the Blue Hens. Following a record-setting campaign in the fall of 2013, Van de Kerkhof agreed to a five-year contract extension, which will keep him in the First State through 2018.
During the recent 2014 season, Van de Kerkhof and his Hens captured their second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association title en route to the sixth NCAA Tournament berth in school history.
Despite losing five talented seniors from the previous year’s NCAA team, the 2014 squad finished the year with a mark of 13-9 while going 4-2 in league action. The No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament, Delaware prevailed for the program’s fourth CAA Championship.
Van de Kerkhof, a native of The Netherlands, led Delaware to an outstanding campaign in 2013. The team posted a program record of 17-5 while claiming the CAA regular season and tournament titles on the way to the program’s fifth NCAA Tournament berth. Additionally, the Hens earned a Top 20 ranking in the NFHCA Coaches Poll.
Van de Kerkhof came to Newark, Del. following a 12-year stint as an assistant and head coach at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. He became the Spartans assistant in 1999 before being named the head coach in 2006. Van de Kerkhof holds a career record of 121-71 over nine seasons at Delaware and Michigan State.
In total, Van de Kerkhof brings more than 25 years of playing and coaching experience to the Blue Hens. In addition to his time at Michigan State, he spent 16 years playing field hockey, obtaining experience as a goalkeeper, defender and midfielder. In August of 1999, he gave up his playing career to become a full-time coach at the intercollegiate level.
Prior to being named the Michigan State head coach in February 2006, he spent the previous seven seasons as the team’s top assistant coach. During his time at MSU, he helped the Spartans put together the most successful era of the program’s history and compiled an overall record of 180-80 as both an assistant and head coach. His five-year record as head coach at Michigan State stood at 74-34, including an impressive 33-10 mark over the final two seasons.
The Spartans made eight trips (four as a head coach) to the NCAA Tournament. Just before joining the Hens, Van de Kerkhof guided the 2010 Michigan State program to a 15-6 overall record and NCAA Championship first round appearance.
After leading the Spartans to both the Big Ten regular season and the Big Ten Tournament titles in 2009, Van de Kerkhof was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. The team finished the season with a record of 18-4 and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where, after defeating Delaware, it fell to Virginia, 3-2. Following the 2009 season, Van de Kerkhof was also named the NFHCA West Regional Coach of the Year.
As a Spartan assistant, Van de Kerkhof helped guide the team to two trips to the Final Four and another two into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. MSU's finest season came in 2002, with an overall record of 23-3 and a trip to the Final Four for the first time in program history.
Prior to coaching and living in Lansing, Mich., Van de Kerkhof coached the under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-18 boys and girls teams at various clubs while living in The Netherlands.
He earned a degree in sports, economics and communication at the Fonty's Hogeschool in Tilburg, The Netherlands, in 1996 and also graduated with two official coaching degrees offered by the Royal Netherlands National Field Hockey Association in 1997 and 1998. During the 1998 Field Hockey World Cup in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Van de Kerkhof was in charge of World Cup projects for Whise International Coaching Experts and Brabo International Hockey Equipment.
Since 2000, Van de Kerkhof has been involved in the Youth Olympic Development and Youth Elite Coaching programs, sponsored by the United States Field Hockey Association. In 2007, he served as the head coach of the US under-16 national team, which finished first in the runners-up pool in the HOD tournament in the Netherlands.
In 2001, he served as an assistant coach with the under-16 U.S. National Team, coaching the squad to a bronze medal in the same tournament. In addition, Van de Kerkhof has been coordinating the under-19 U.S. Futures Elite Hockey Tours to The Netherlands and served as head coach of the squads in the spring of 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. He also assists in developmental programs for coaches across the nation and enjoys volunteering for charity organizations, including the Greg Gephart Fund in Houston, Texas and the Worthington Weed Whackers Program in Columbus, Ohio.
He and his wife, Mary, have four children, Sebastiaan, Mark, Lieve and Anneke.