“I am thrilled to welcome Belle into the Dartmouth athletics family and community,” said Sheehy. “During her visit to our campus, Belle impressed everyone with her knowledge of and passion for the game of basketball. She has learned the game from great coaches in great programs and is well-suited to lead our team into the future. Our current team and future Dartmouth women’s basketball players will love playing for Belle.
“I also want to thank the four dedicated alumnae who served on our Search Advisory Committee,” Sheehy added. “Allison Greene ’90, Ute Bowman Otley ’90, Sherryta Freeman ’01, and Ashley Taylor Meyer ’07 were very generous with their time and insights, and played a critical role in the search process.”
Koclanes spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at American, where she helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back winning records. During her first season, American posted the first undefeated Patriot League record (14-0) in conference history. In addition, Koclanes was responsible for the development of the guards as well as game strategy.
“I want to thank Harry Sheehy, [Senior Associate Athletics Director] Drew Galbraith and the entire Dartmouth family for the opportunity to bring my experiences and passion of coaching to the Big Green,” Koclanes said. “As soon as I arrived in Hanover, it was evident that the people make the place. I am excited to connect with the community and see many familiar faces in Leede Arena.”
Prior to her stint at American, Koclanes spent three seasons on the staff at Old Dominion University for legendary coach Wendy Larry. During her time in Norfolk, the Lady Monarchs recorded a 56-38 overall record, including a 39-15 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play, and earned two berths in the WNIT. Koclanes was responsible for the development of the guards with additional responsibilities for recruiting and game scouting.
Koclanes is no stranger to the Ivy League having started her career as the director of operations at Columbia University during the 2003-04 season before spending four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania. During her tenure at Penn, Koclanes assisted in all aspects of recruiting, scouting, on-court coaching and game preparation.
Before entering the coaching ranks, Koclanes spent the 2002-03 season playing professionally for Panserraikos in the Greek Basketball League.
A three-year captain at the University of Richmond, Koclanes finished her collegiate career as the Spiders’ career assist leader and was an All-America nominee as well as a Naismith Award candidate.
Koclanes earned her degree in leadership studies from Richmond in 2002 and her master’s in culture and communication from New York University in 2004. She has utilized her degree by implementing a 12-month leadership development program with the American women’s basketball team and also spent time as a leadership teacher at Leaders Challenge Summer Academy and the Sports Challenge Leadership Academy.
A member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Koclanes has presented at the Assistant Coaches Roundtables in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention held each year at the Final Four.
“Dartmouth has a strong winning tradition that has been established by the outstanding coaches and players of the past,” said Koclanes. “I am eager for the challenge to continue this legacy. I believe that coaching is about building relationships with people and creating a culture for young adults to achieve excellence. Our team culture will be rooted in respect, attitude and preparation. With these values at our core, we will wear the Green with pride as we strive for our 18th Ivy League title.”
Koclanes inherits a squad that returns 13 letterwinners, including 11 underclassmen. She replaces longtime Dartmouth head coach Chris Wielgus who stepped down after 28 years at the helm of the program.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Wendy Larry, Head Coach, Old Dominion University 1988-2011, Current Associate Commissioner, Atlantic 10 Conference
“Replacing a legend is a difficult task. Belle’s love and passion for the game is contagious! She will respect the past, embrace the present and lead positively into the future of Dartmouth women’s basketball.”
Sherryta Freeman ’01, Senior Associate Athletics Director, Temple University; member of Women’s Basketball Search Advisory Committee
“Belle has excellent basketball knowledge and an impressive approach to leading a team. Her interview left a lasting impression on me. She is ready to be a head coach and will be a great leader of Dartmouth women. She was able to communicate how she would run the program in terms of X’s and O’s and her approach to leadership training shined through.”
Matt Corkery, Head Coach, American University
“Belle is a rising star in the coaching ranks and a fantastic hire for Dartmouth. She is an excellent teacher, motivator and recruiter. I believe she will do great things at Dartmouth.”