University of Delaware Selects Rolf van de Kerkhof as Head Coach for Blue Hen Field Hockey Program
December 14, 2010
Photos Courtesy of Michigan State Media Relations
NEWARK, Del. -- The University of Delaware announced Tuesday that Rolf van de Kerkhof, who helped lead Michigan State to national prominence over the last 12 seasons, has been named head coach of the Blue Hen field hockey program.
Van de Kerkhof (pronounced “van-duh-kirk-off”), a native of The Netherlands, becomes just the sixth head coach in the 40-year history of the program at Delaware.
Van de Kerkhof takes the reigns from Carol Miller, who announced her retirement following the 2010 season after an outstanding 17-year career at the helm of the Blue Hens. Miller, who earned All-American honors as a player at UD, had a career record of 194-159 at Delaware, winning two Colonial Athletic Association titles and advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2009.
“We are excited to have Rolf join the University of Delaware and head our field hockey program,” said UD Director of Athletics and Recreation Services Bernard Muir in making the announcement. “Rolf has enjoyed an outstanding career at Michigan State and has a proven track record in recruiting and leading world-class players. We look forward to him continuing the success of our program and building the Blue Hens into a consistent contender not only in the CAA but in the nation.”
Van de Kerkhof led his 2010 team to a 15-6 overall record and an NCAA Championship first round appearance. The Spartans finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference, earning an at-large berth to the national tournament. He recently finished his 12th season at Michigan State, the last five as the head coach. Prior to being named the head coach in February 2006, he spent the previous seven seasons as the team’s top assistant coach. During his time at Michigan State, he helped the Spartans put together the most successful era of the program’s history.
“My family and I are very excited about joining the Blue Hen athletic family and becoming part of the University of Delaware community and experience,” said van de Kerkhof. “I am very thankful for the opportunity given to me by Bernard Muir as the new Blue Hen head field hockey coach. I look forward to contributing to a great and positive experience for current and future field hockey student-athletes. As a program, I plan on developing pride and building a tradition in which we prepare for and achieve success in the classroom and on the field. I would like to thank the Spartan athletic department and Michigan State University for the privilege they have given me in developing myself into a better coach and ultimately a better person. The experiences and lessons learned during my 12 years in East Lansing allow me to be confident and prepared to start heading the Blue Hen field hockey program. Thank you State and go Blue Hens!”
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.
MSU posted a 17-6 overall record in 2008, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament and hosting the first and second rounds at Ralph Young Field. The Spartans dispatched defending national champion North Carolina in the first round before falling in a 1-0 heartbreaker to Iowa in the quarterfinals.
After an 8-12 mark in 2006, his 2007 team posted a 16-6 record and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, marking the fourth time in Michigan State history that the field hockey team had finished with 15 or more regular-season wins. He was an assistant with the program when the Spartans did the same in 2001, 2002, and 2004. His five-year record as head coach at Michigan State stood at 74-34, including an impressive 33-10 mark over the last two years.
As a Spartan assistant, van de Kerkhof helped the team to an overall record of 106-46 (.697), making 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.
Van de Kerkhof brings more than 20 years of playing and coaching experience to the Blue Hens. In addition to the 12 years coaching at Michigan State, he spent 16 years playing field hockey, obtaining experience as a goalkeeper, defender, and midfielder. That experience easily translated into van de Kerkhof specializing in coaching the goalkeepers and the defensive unit at MSU. In August of 1999, he gave up his playing career to become a full-time coach at the intercollegiate level.
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 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 two sons, Sebastiaan and Mark.Back To Field Hockey Home Field Hockey Story Archive