Aaland out as ’Hawks coach

‘I didn’t see this coming at all,’ bench boss says

Aaland Enlarge photo


Shelly Aaland has been let go as Fort Lewis College’s women’s volleyball coach.

Fort Lewis officials would not comment Monday on the move, the motivations for it or whether Aaland, who headed the program for 10 years and is the only coach to guide the Skyhawks to the NCAA Division II Tournament, will remain with the college in any capacity.

Aaland, however, still was coming to grips with it Monday night.

“I didn’t see this coming at all and am still trying to wrap my head around it,” Aaland said in a text message to The Durango Herald. “I am very disappointed to leave the program. I have been a part of this program since 1995 and am very proud of my conference title and two appearances in the national tournament.

“This team will be very successful next fall. I had one of the strongest recruiting classes coming in. I wish them well.”

FLC Athletic Director Gary Hunter would not comment on the record.

“We do not have an announcement and will not have an announcement until (Tuesday) at the earliest,” said Chris Aaland, assistant director of athletics for communications at Fort Lewis. “There are some HR (human resources) things that the college needs to sort out.”

Chris Aaland also is Shelly Aaland’s husband.

During her 10 years at the helm of the Skyhawks, Aaland’s teams posted an overall record of 129-148 and 89-99 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The team went 11-16 overall last year, 7-12 in the RMAC for a fourth-place conference finish.

Those 129 total wins place Aaland, who also served as an assistant coach from 2001-03, third all-time in program history. Marcy Jung (1886-98) is the all-time leader with 218.

In 2006, Aaland’s Skyhawks earned a berth to the program’s first-ever NCAA Division II Tournament. They repeated that feat in 2007, when the Skyhawks won their first RMAC title since 1994, as well as the RMAC West Divison title.

Their 17-2 conference record that year tied perennial power Nebraska-Kearney for the regular-season title, and those 17 conference wins surpassed the previous program record of 12.

Each of Aaland’s teams also maintained grade point averages higher than 3.19.

Aaland also was a four-year letterwinner for the Skyhawks from 1995-98, where she led the RMAC in service aces as a junior with 0.48 per game and was second in the league as a senior with 0.40 per game.

As the starting setter her senior year, Aaland was chosen by her teammates as the 1998 team’s most valuable player.

Aaland ranks second among the Skyhawks’ career leaders in services aces with 0.42, fourth in total service aces with 106, fifth in assists per game with 5.79 and sixth in total assists with 1,447.

Herald sports writer Ryan Owens also contributed to this report.