The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) presented the 2015 Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award to University of Illinois women's basketball coach Matt Bollant for his leadership, dedication and commitment both on and off the court.
Matt Bollant, University of Illinois Women's Basketball Coach
The award was presented in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, April 5, during the FCA Breakfast at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association convention at the Tampa Marriott Waterside.
Named for the late North Carolina State coaching icon Kay Yow, the award is presented annually by FCA to honor a basketball coach who has exemplified biblical principles over the course of his or her career. The late Kay Yow, who passed away from breast cancer in 2009, was presented with the inaugural award at the 2008 Women’s Final Four in Tampa.
“We are thrilled to honor Matt Bollant—an excellent coach—during the most exciting time in college basketball,” said Les Steckel, FCA President and CEO. “Matt has truly exemplified what it means to be a committed, dedicated and passionate coach—guiding his players both on and off the court, and teaching them lessons that will last long after the buzzer sounds.”
According to his official biography, Bollant, now in his third season at the University of Illinois, has begun reviving the program there. In 2013, he led the Orange and Blue to the postseason for the first time in three years, and Illinois finished with a winning Big Ten record for the first time in 10 seasons. Bollant has also led the composition of back-to-back Top 25 recruiting classes during his first two recruiting years at Illinois.
In 2012-13, Illinois women’s basketball saw an 80 percent increase in attendance over the 2011-12 season, reaching an average of 1,926. Illinois also defeated three ranked opponents: No. 6 Georgia, No. 24 Iowa and No. 24 Ohio State. Additionally, Illinois broke the Big Ten record for steals, steals per game and turnovers forced in a conference season.
Prior to coming to Illinois, Bollant spent five successful years at Green Bay, where he led the Phoenix to five-straight Horizon League titles and four-straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
He was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year for the fourth time in 2012.
Bollant has an .837 winning percentage as a collegiate coach, including a 134-36 record at Bryan (Tenn.) College from the NAIA level. Before becoming a collegiate head coach, Bollant was an assistant coach at the University of Evansville and at Indiana University.
A 1994 graduate of Winona State University with a degree in business education, Bollant earned a master’s degree in education from American Intercontinental University. He served as both the varsity and junior varsity head coach of Depper Life Academy in the Philippines and spent three years as the head coach at Tigerton (Wis.) High School, where he led the Tigers to a 63-10 record and to three Central Wisconsin Conference Small School titles from 1994-97.
Bollant’s coaching honors include a two-time NCCAA Regional Coach of the Year; the NAIA Region 6 Coach of the Year and AAC Coach of the Year in 2006-07; a four-time Horizon League Coach of the Year; and the 2010-11 Kay Yow National Coach of the Year.
Past winners of the FCA Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award, along with their respective schools at the time of the award, include:
2008: Kay Yow, North Carolina State
2009: Jane Albright, Nevada
2010: Nancy Wilson, College of Charleston
2011: Sue Ramsey, Ashland
2012: Deb Patterson, Kansas State
2013: Sue Semrau, Florida State
2014: Kristy Curry, Alabama
For more information about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, visit FCA’s web site at www.fca.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed, @fcanews.