11 NCAA Div. III national team championships
PELLA — A pair of highly successful coaches are taking on new leadership roles in the Central College athletics department.
Head wrestling coach Eric Van Kley takes over as interim athletics director July 1 following current athletics director Al Dorenkamp’s retirement while associate head softball coach Alicia O’Brien becomes associate athletics director and senior woman administrator. Both will retain their coaching responsibilities.
Special assistant John Edwards becomes associate athletics director for operations and Mona Roozeboom will continue as associate athletics director for business affairs.
Van Kley took on a similar role when he was named athletics director at the University of Great Falls (Mont.) in 2006-07 while also serving as the school’s wrestling coach. A Rock Valley, Iowa native, Van Kley started the Great Falls wrestling program in 2004 and turned it into an NAIA title
contender, compiling a 28-13 dual meet record over three seasons, with three national top-10 team finishes.
Inheriting a Central squad that had as many as five open weights in 2007-08, Van Kley has built a squad of 40 wrestlers and the Dutch have made a steady ascent in his five seasons. His teams have posted three straight 10-win seasons, including a 13-11 mark in 2011-12, the program’s most wins since 1993-94. He was named co-winner of the Iowa Conference coach of the year award in 2009-10.
“Eric’s work in reenergizing the Central wrestling program over the past five years has garnered widespread praise and he is highly respected by his peers,” said president Mark Putnam. “He possesses all the qualities necessary to provide dynamic leadership for Central’s athletics department and our student-athletes. We are grateful that he is stepping up to accept this important responsibility.”
O’Brien is a veteran administrator and coach. She was the associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Western Connecticut State University, where she was the head softball coach for 17 highly successful seasons. For the past six years she’s been Central’s associate head softball coach and her teams at the two schools have made a combined 12 NCAA Division III tournament appearances, with a 615-283-3 record. Alicia earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Western Connecticut State and served a five-year term as Title IX consultant with the Danbury, Conn. school system.
“Alicia is also ideally suited for her new position,” Putnam said. “We’re fortunate to have someone already on staff with her experience and leadership skills who is available to step in and join John Edwards and Mona Roozeboom in guiding us through this time of transition. I feel very good about the athletics leadership team we have assembled.”
The college conducted a search for Dorenkamp’s successor but Putnam said it became increasingly clear that the time wasn’t right for a permanent replacement.
"Al Dorenkamp served Central faithfully for 14 years and often when long-tenured leaders depart, institutions and departments require a time of reorientation and renewal,” Putnam said. “We need to take a look at the department’s leadership structure, examine issues that have surfaced and identify enhancements while also facilitating athletics’ involvement in the college’s Integrated Learning process.”
The Dutch athletics program is deeply rooted in the NCAA Division III. Retired president Kenneth J. Weller authored the original Division III philosophy and Central won the first women’s championship ever staged by the NCAA, the 1981 Division III women’s cross country crown. The Dutch have captured 11 national team championships overall, with 28 individual national titles, 154 Iowa Conference team crowns and 23 league all-sports titles. Central student-athletes have received CoSIDA academic all-America honors 49 times and all-America distinction more than 375 times. This spring Central claimed league championships in baseball, men’s track and field and men’s golf, and the Dutch softball team earned an NCAA tournament berth.
Central College athletics directors
1928-38 L.A. Winter
1938-65 Richard “Babe” Tysseling
1965-93 Ron Schipper
1993-94 Gary Boeyink (interim)
1994-97 Sam Bedrosian
1997-98 John Edwards (interim)
1998-2012 Al Dorenkamp
2012- Eric Van Kley (interim)