Head coach Ian Blanchard just completed his 12th season at the helm of of the Retrievers, having racked up the hardware and built the volleyball program into a perennial contender for the America East Championship since arriving on campus for the 2005 season. During his tenure, UMBC has posted a 167-151 overall record with a 73-60 mark in America East play. In addition, the Retrievers have advanced to the America East Championships in eight of Blanchard’s 12 years including a six-year string from 2008-13.
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 did not 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 slowly, 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.
With the 2011 Retrievers, Blanchard guided the team past perennially ranked UC-Riverside early in the year and then back to the America East Championships for a 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.
In 2012, UMBC recorded its best-ever mark in America East play, posting an 8-4 record and earning a fifth-straight trip to the conference tournament. Along the way the Retrievers swept three conference rivals and earned their first win over regular season champions Albany since 2007, defeating the Great Danes in four sets on Nov. 2 at the RAC. Four Retrievers earned conference post-season recognition with Mallory McIntyre garnering the Co-Setter of the Year award as well as a spot on the All-Conference First Team.
In 2013, UMBC returned to the America East title match for the first time since 2010, falling to tournament host New Hampshire in five sets. The Retrievers posted a 19-12 mark during the regular season and a 9-5 record in conference play, earning the most wins in the America East since joining the conference in 2003. UMBC defeated in-state rival Maryland for the first time in program history in a 3-0 sweep at the GW/Nike Invitational. In addition, the Retrievers swept league foe Albany for the first time before defeating the Great Danes in three sets in the conference semifinals. Senior Mallow McIntyre was named the conference Setter of the Year for the second consecutive season while classmate Emily Witsaman joined her on the All-Conference First Team.
The 2014 edition of the UMBC volleyball team finished with a 10-15 record, posting a 4-8 record in America East play. The Retrievers played a quartet of teams that advanced to the NCAA Championships, including Arizona, BYU, Washington and New Hampshire. Junior Sherelle Walker earned America East All-Conference Second Team honors, while freshmen Paola Rojas and Marissa Duncan were named to the All-Rookie team.
In 2016, UMBC returned to the America East Tournament and finished with a 17-9 overall record, posting a 8-5 conference record.
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 and Reese, in Phoenix, Md.