Blankenship Named FGCU's First-Ever Women's Soccer Coach
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jim Blankenship has been selected as the first-ever women’s soccer head coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, athletic director Carl McAloose announced Monday afternoon. A veteran of nearly two decades in collegiate coaching, Blankenship began his duties in July. The Eagles’ first season of competition will be in the fall of 2007.
During his career, Blankenship’s teams have won three national championships, appeared in eight straight final fours, received two NCAA Division I national tournament bids and graduated over 40 all-Americans and 18 academic all-Americans. His collegiate head coaching record stands at 241-70-9.
“We are extremely pleased to have Jim Blankenship lead our new women’s soccer program,” said McAloose. “He is a proven winner with a strong track record of leading start-up programs to national prominence. He knows what it takes to be successful in the Atlantic Sun Conference and we think he can develop a strong program at FGCU, both in the classroom and on the field, very quickly.”
Blankenship recently completed his third season as assistant women’s soccer coach at Florida Atlantic University, which has won back-to-back Atlantic Sun Conference championships. After posting the most wins in program history this past fall, the Owls received their first-ever bid to the NCAA College Cup but fell to eventual national semifinalist Florida State in the first round. Under the direction of head coach Brian Dooley, Blankenship was responsible for training and recruiting for the Owls’ program.
“I’m excited about this phenomenal opportunity at FGCU,” said Blankenship. “I want to thank Carl, Dr. Merwin and the committee for this opportunity,” said Blankenship. “I came away impressed with the vision and commitment of the university and I like the challenge of developing a new program. It will be a big responsibility but we have a blueprint in place to do it. FGCU is a hidden secret in soccer but I look forward to getting it started.”
This will be the fourth start-up program under Blankenship’s direction. Previously he developed new programs as the head coach at the University of Miami, Lynn University and St. Thomas University.
From 1998 to 2002, he developed the program at the University of Miami, leading the Hurricanes to the conference tournament in year two and receiving an NCAA tournament bid in just the fourth season of competition. Under his direction, the Hurricanes climbed as high as No. 14 in the national rankings and Blankenship's recruiting classes were recognized as some of the top-rated collegiate classes between 1998 and 2001.
Prior to UM, Blankenship spent 12 years as the first-ever head women's soccer coach at Lynn University. He earned NAIA Coach of the Year honors five times (1988, 1990, 1992, 1994 & 1995) and NSCAA Coach of the Year twice (1992 and 1994). His teams won three national championships (1992, 1994 & 1995) and were runners-up twice (1991 and 1993). The Fighting Knights reached the Final Four 10 consecutive seasons under his tutelage. He also developed 18 academic All-Americans and 40 All-Americans. He was inducted into Lynn University's Athletic Hall-of-Fame in the spring of 2003.
In addition to his collegiate coaching, he has been the Director of Coaching for the Soccer Association of Boca Raton, where he coached 15 teams and led Team Boca, one of the most competitive development programs in the nation, to eight championships, including a state title over the summer in the 13-U division.
Blankenship played collegiate soccer at Florida International University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in administration and recreation in 1982. He later went on to earn his master's degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University.