OTTAWA LAKE – Matt Van Brandt has been named the varsity softball coach at Whiteford.
The Whiteford graduate and former varsity baseball coach has been a volunteer softball assistant for nearly a decade and now takes over the program that has a long history of championships and success.
“It’s a privilege and honor to work with Whiteford student-athletes in any capacity,” Van Brandt said. “We will continue to carry on the Whiteford softball tradition of hard work, discipline, and mental toughness.”
Kris Hubbard, who started the Whiteford softball program in 1979, retired after last season, her 41st as head coach of the Bobcats. Assistant coach John Morningstar was named head coach and had started working with the team with individual workouts and other capacities but resigned recently due to a job conflict.
The Whiteford school board hired Van Brandt, who has been a teacher at Whiteford since 1998 and its virtual coordinator since 2018. He coached the Bobcat varsity baseball team from 2003 to 2007 and began working with the softball program a couple of years later.
“Coach Hubbard asked me to come in and work with some younger catchers in 2009,” he said. “In 2011, I assisted at some early season practices and games. In 2012, we had just enough players to run a shortened JV schedule, so coach Hubbard and I ran practices together. Since then, I’ve been a volunteer assistant, working in different capacities each year.”
Van Brandt and his wife, Audra, have also been involved in spring and fall youth softball teams in the community, something he said they will continue to support. Audra Van Brandt is a former varsity softball coach at Bedford. She will be part of the Whiteford coaching staff as well.
“Audra will assist again this year and be in charge of pitching,” Van Brandt said.
Hubbard will also remain on the staff as an assistant coach and Lynn Hammerstrom will be on staff and in charge of outfielders.
“We will focus on effort, attitude and setting both team and personalized athletic and academic performance goals,” said Van Brandt. “We will have a growth mindset, with an expectation of improvement throughout the season.”
Van Brandt was an All Tri-County Conference football and baseball player at Whiteford, graduating in 1992. He was a first team All-State baseball player his senior season. He had high praise for his time working with Hubbard, who was also one of his teachers in the classroom while a student at Whiteford.
“There are many coaches in the hall of fame, and they are surely all great coaches, but her dedication, experience, and success put her on a different level,” he said. “She always kept it about the kids – because it is.”
The Bobcats are coming off a 29-5 season that included a Tri-County Conference championship. The first game is scheduled for March 23 at Toledo St. Ursula Academy.