Jim Plumer Named AHCA National Coach of the Year

AMHERST, MA – Jim Plumer of Amherst College has been voted by his peers as the 2009 American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Division III Women's Ice Hockey Coach of the Year for leading the Lord Jeffs to their first NCAA Championship. The Coach of the Year Award is chosen by members of the AHCA and will be presented on Apr. 25 at the Coach of the Year Celebration in Naples, Florida, as part of the annual AHCA Convention.

"This is a great honor," says Plumer, "but it is truly a reflection of the team's success. I want to thank and give credit to my assistant coaches, Meghan Gillis and Marissa O'Neil. They are fierce competitors who know what it takes to win, and they connected extremely well with the players. I attribute our success to a staff dynamic that was really special."

Amherst went 24-5-0 this year to set a new program record for wins in a season, marking the third consecutive 20-win season for Plumer's squads. The Lord Jeffs defeated the three schools that had combined to win all seven previous NCAA titles en route to their 2009 championship. After a 4-1 win over Plattsburgh State in the national tournament's opening round, Amherst earned a 3-2 victory over Middlebury in the semifinals before wrapping up the season with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over Elmira.  

Plumer, the 2007 and 2009 NESCAC Coach of the Year, was named a finalist for the 2007 AHCA Coach of the Year when he led the Jeffs to a 20-7-3 record and a first ever appearance in the national semifinals. That year's squad earned the program's first conference title and won seven more games than any other team in program history had.

A 1983 graduate of Colby College, Plumer arrived in Amherst in 2003 after serving as an assistant coach for Bowdoin, helping the Polar Bears to two NCAA semifinal appearances and a NESCAC title. Bowdoin's Michelle Amidon was named the AHCA Coach of the Year and was twice honored as the NESCAC Coach of the Year while Plumer was an assistant with the Polar Bears.

During the three-year span that saw Plumer help lead Bowdoin to a 62-12-7 (.809) record, Amherst had gone 16-48-6 (.271) on the other end of the NESCAC spectrum. "I knew when I came to Amherst that reaching Bowdoin's status would be a tremendous uphill climb," notes Plumer. "I wanted to make Amherst competitive, but I knew it would be tough to compete with the likes of Bowdoin and Middlebury in the recruiting process."

As challenging as recruiting was, Plumer gathered an exceptional Class of 2009 that proved to be exactly what Amherst needed to win a national championship. Tarasai Karega '09 and Anna MacLean '09 combined for 178 career points, Julie Radziewicz '09 was named a team captain in each of her final two seasons, and Lindsey Harrington '09, who Plumer describes as the heart and soul of the team, earned All-NESCAC honors during a dominant senior season.  

"After advancing to the national semifinals in 2007, this year's seniors became relentless in their commitment to getting another shot a national title," says Plumer. "It truly is a special group that was determined to win."

Amherst will have an obvious target on its back heading into the 2009-10 season, but Plumer doesn't expect that to affect his team. "I actually feel less pressure going into next year than I felt coming into this year," he says. "We struggled at the beginning of the 2007-08 season because we weren't used to playing with expectations, but we've played in several big games since then. Nothing compares to the nerves we played with in the national championship—that's as much pressure as we'll ever face."

Plumer will begin his seventh season at the Amherst helm just five wins shy of 100 for his career.

AHCA Coach of the Year Honorees
2000 - Ted Wisner, Colgate
2001 - Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2002 - Jamie Wood, Elmira
2003 - Michele Amidon, Bowdoin
2004 - Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2005 - Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2006 - Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2007 - Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2008 - Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2009 - Jim Plumer, Amherst