NEW LONDON, Conn.-- Coast Guard Academy has named Kevin Bratland head wrestling coach and professor of health and physical education.
Bratland was the head coach at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois for the past eight seasons. He led the Cardinals to a 73-47-1 dual-meet record and three College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Championships while also being named conference Coach of the Year three times. His teams finished in top 10 at the NCAA Division III Championships three times.
"Being able to hire a coach of the caliber of Kevin Bratland is a tremendous step forward for our wrestling program here at Coast Guard," said Tim Fitzpatrick, Coast Guard's Director of Athletics. "Kevin brings a wide array of skills to the table that we need and want in a wrestling coach – he's a great on-the-mat instructor and teacher, a relentless recruiter, values the cadet-athlete experience and embraces the core values of the academy. He was a nationally prominent Division III wrestler as a student-athlete, and has run a program at North Central that has been continually successful on the mat and in the classroom. It is my distinct and sincere pleasure to welcome Kevin, his wife Lindsi and sons Brody and Tucker to the Coast Guard Bears family."
In his first season in 2006-'07, Bratland led the Cardinals to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships, the highest finish in school history. Four wrestlers qualified for nationals and two were All-Americans.
North Central sent three wrestlers to the 2008 Division III Championships, each of whom earned All-American honors in helping the Cardinals to a ninth-place finish.
In 2009, North Central had two individuals qualify for national-championship competition with both earning All-America honors. The Cardinals also set a school record with 15 dual-meet victories in the 2008-2009 campaign and achieved a national ranking as high as fourth by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
Four of his wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Championships and two earned All-America honors in the 2009-2010 season as the team posted a 12-5-1 dual-meet record.
During the 2010-2011 season, three individuals qualified for the national championships with one earning All-America honors.
In 2012, two athletes earned All-America honors while 2013 saw one wrestler earn All-America status. Last year Bratland had two wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships.
"I would like to thank Tim Fitzpatrick, Dan Rose and the entire Coast Guard Academy for granting me this opportunity. This is very bitter sweet for myself and my wife Lindsi," said Bratland. " We are leaving a great place and a great community in North Central College, but are very excited and honored to start this next chapter in our lives at the United States Coast Guard Academy."
Bratland served as the assistant wrestling coach at Ohio Northern University for two seasons before coming to North Central. He was the assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach at Division III wrestling powerhouse Wartburg College (Iowa) from 2003-05. Bratland helped coach Wartburg to its second straight national title in 2004. He has also served as an assistant coach at Humboldt High School in Humboldt, Iowa, in 1999-2000.
Bratland graduated from Wartburg in 2003 with a degree in fitness management. He received his master's degree in exercise science in 2004 from University of Northern Iowa. Bratland is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist and attained his coaching certification from Iowa Central Community College.
As a collegian, Bratland was a two-time National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III All-Academic Individual and two-time NCAA III All-American. In 2002, he finished third in the nation at 157 pounds and improved his placement to second as a senior in 2003. Bratland served as Wartburg's co-captain as a junior and senior and was the team's most valuable wrestler those same two years. He was a member of Wartburg's 2003 national championship team.
Bratland began his wrestling career at Iowa State University in 1997 and was part of the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation along with four-time undefeated national champion and Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson and four-time All-American and national champion Joe Heskett. The Cyclones finished fourth at the NCAA Division I Championships that season, with four wrestlers earning All-America honors.
"The Coast Guard Academy is a very unique opportunity and one I am very passionate about. I have been very fortunate to be part of a great program at North Central College," said Bratland. " I look to use this experience to build upon the tradition that Coach Eldridge has started. I am a product of being around great coaches and great people, and the Coast Guard is another opportunity to surround myself with great leaders."
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT BRATLAND
Four-time All-American and also a national championat Iowa State, current Head Coach at Army and teammate of Bratland at Iowa State
"Mr. Fitzpatrick and the Search Committee have truly discovered a diamond-in-the-rough. Kevin Bratland exudes what Coast Guard wants in a coach and a leader. He is a man of great integrity, and he will accomplish great things with Coast Guard wrestling. I'm excited for him and for his family, and for the entire Coast Guard athletic program."
Head Coach at Wartburg from 1991-2013, who won nine Division III National Championships
"He is a dang good coach and is very passionate and brings a lot of positive energy. He will thrive in the Academy culture. Kevin is very organized and will be very diligent in recruiting. In all aspects of the job, Coast Guard really got a good coach and made an excellent, excellent choice."
National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Executive Director
"I am thrilled to see Kevin Bratland become the next head wrestling coach at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Kevin has mentored (as a wrestler and a coach) under a few of the best college coaches in the nation. He was selected by his peers several years ago to receive a full scholarship to attend the prestigious NWCA CEO Leadership Academy and has quickly emerged as one of the "bright shining star" college wrestling coaches in America. He is fully committed to an educationally based coaching philosphy and he will no doubt build on the great wrestling tradition at the United States Coast Guard Academy."