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Rolf van de Kerkhof's spent 12 years at Michigan State University as part of the field hockey program, and five as the head coach. He was named to the position in February 2006, after spending seven seasons as an assistant. During his time at Michigan State, he helped the Spartans put together the most successful era of the program's history.
"It has been an amazing and beautiful experience being a member of the Michigan State University community during my twelve years in East Lansing," said Van de Kerkhof upon his departure. "From day one of joining the MSU staff, I stressed the importance of creating a family atmosphere and having a `family first' approach. I truly believe that this focus point has allowed our student-athletes to develop, work together, and achieve a higher level of success in the classroom and on the field. Now that my wife and I have young children, pursuing the University of Delaware position was in my family's best interest."
"I am truly grateful for the great personal and professional opportunities Spartan Athletics and Michigan State University have provided me. Outside the competitive academic and athletic setting it also has allowed our group of players, parents, coaches, support staff and fans to enjoy each other more and be part of something unique and very special. I look forward to using my experiences at MSU to build and create another family-oriented field hockey program that will prepare, compete and contribute to the University of Delaware. However, I truly feel that "Once a Spartan, always a Spartan", and that Spartan Pride Never Dies. This will remain part of my daily life no matter where I coach."
In his five seasons as the head coach, van de Kerkhof compiled a 74-36-0 overall record, which included a 15-6-0 mark and NCAA Tournament bids in each of the last four seasons. In 2009, his Spartans became the first team to win both the Big Ten title outright and also the Big Ten Tournament. Van de Kerkhof was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year that season, and that team finished the season with a record of 18-4 and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where after defeating Delaware 7-0, they 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 has 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. Van de Kerkhof is now 59-28 in four seasons as head coach of the Spartans, which includes an impressive 35-10 mark over the last two years.
During Van de Kerkhof's tenure as an MSU assistant, the team had an overall record of 106-46 (.697), made two trips to the Final Four, and another two into the Elite Eight. 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.
A native of Tilburg, The Netherlands, Van de Kerkhof brings more than 20 years of playing and coaching experience to MSU's program. In addition to aiding with the overall operation of the field hockey program as an assistant, Van de Kerkhof specialized in recruiting, camps and clinics. As an assistant, he focused his coaching efforts on goalkeeping and the defensive unit, as well as technical and tactical areas with individual players.
While living in The Netherlands, Van de Kerkhof coached the under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-18 boys and girls teams.
Van de Kerkhof earned a degree in sports, economics and communication at the Fonty's Hogeschool in Tilburg. He 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.
Van de Kerkhof 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.
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. This past summer he coached at the AAU Junior Olympics. 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.
Van de Kerkhof 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.
Van de Kerkhof and his wife Mary reside in Lansing with their sons, Sebastiaan and Mark.
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