Head Coach Ryan Hilyer
Office Phone: 304-829-7087
After a national search, Thiel College assistant coach Ryan Hilyer has been selected as the new head men’s lacrosse coach at Bethany College, as announced Wednesday by the College’s Director of Athletics & Recreation Brian Rose.
“We are excited to announce Ryan Hilyer as the new head men’s lacrosse coach at Bethany,” said Rose. “Ryan’s knowledge of the game, as well as his work ethic in not only preparing his teams but especially in recruiting, made him stand out in the search process. Those attributes, as well as his familiarity with the conference and his willingness to develop a successful culture on the field, in the classroom and in the community, made Ryan the right fit to take the reins of our lacrosse program.”
For Hilyer, accepting his first head coaching position at Bethany was about helping build a perennial conference contender in the Ohio River Lacrosse Conference.
“I feel like Bethany was a really good fit for me in my first head coaching role,” commented Hilyer. “The culture that has already been started here has built a solid foundation for success, and I am very excited to be able to cultivate that success in an environment with which I am familiar.”
Hilyer comes to Bethany after serving three seasons as an assistant coach for fellow ORLC and Presidents’ Athletic Conference school, Thiel College. While there, Hilyer helped turn the Tomcats from a young program into one which had regular success within the conference.
“I would like to thank coach (Jeff) Arneson and the staff at Thiel for providing me with the experience that I needed to take the next step in my career,” remarked Hilyer. “I look forward to being able to implement some of the same strategies which led to success there, here at Bethany.”
A defensive-minded coach, Hilyer helped the Tomcats improve dramatically on the defensive side of the ball over the past few seasons. In just two years as the defensive coordinator, Hilyer helped Thiel decrease their goals against average from 10.31 to 7.47 in 2015. With that came a 2015 record of 10-5 for the Tomcats in the first year of the ORLC.
Along with the team success, Hilyer helped coach eight different players to All-ORLC status, including five members of the defense. He helped goalie Ryan Weldon rank sixth in all of Division III in save percentage while leading the team to finish 17th in the Nation in caused turnovers per game.
“I have always been a defensive minded person when it comes to lacrosse,” commented Hilyer. “Team defense is the key for everything that we do to be successful. Playing as a defensive unit and pushing the tempo once we cause turnovers, is something that I really like to emphasize.”
Hilyer will have an opportunity to take over a Bison squad that returns seven All-ORLC performers from one season ago, including second-team selections Jake Holland (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) and Jordan Horne (Marysville, Mich./Marysville). Overall, the Green & White lose just one senior from a team that posted four wins in their first year in the ORLC.
“We have some really good athletes on the roster already,” commented Hilyer of the returning players. “Any time you enter a new situation, it is always good to have a solid core of players that can make an immediate impact.”
One of the top goals for Hilyer entering his first year as head coach is to implement the building blocks of a winning culture to the Bison. “I’m really looking forward to continuing the progress of the program and helping Bethany take that next step,” said Hilyer. “We want to make sure that we are not only a success on the field, but we want to be a success in the classroom and in the community as well.
“I would like to thank Brian Rose and the search committee for all of their support throughout this entire process,” commented Hilyer. “The thing that sold me on my decision was the campus’ commitment to the program, and I want to let everyone know that I will be bringing that same level of commitment to the team every day.”
Zach Speelman returns for his second season as an assistant coach for the Bethany College Lacrosse team.
In his first season with the Bison, Speelman helped the Green & White to four victories in their first year in the newly formed Ohio River Lacrosse Conference. The Bison posted more goals in the year than any previous season as they totaled 135 on the year.
Speelman helped freshman face-off man, Bryan Uth, to an All-ORLC Honorable Mention selection during his freshman campaign. On the year, Uth posted a faceoff percetnage of .519, converting on 168 of 324 chances. Uth also led the Bison in ground balls, totaling 97 on the season.
Speelman joined Bethany after spending a year at Eastern View High School as a defensive coach. There he was in charge of instructing and implementing different defensive schemes as well as teaching advanced faceoff techniques.
Speelman played three years of lacrosse for Randolph College, serving as team captain in his senior campaign. During his time, Speelman appeared in 36 games while making 10 starts for the Wildcats. He received his Bachelor of Art degree from Randolph in 2012.
While at Bethany, Speelman will be enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program.