Janel Blankespoor, who served as the program’s interim head coach over the last year, emerged as the person to lead the Wilmington College women’s basketball program going forward.
“Janel navigated a difficult year [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] as our interim head coach and excelled,” WC athletic director Terry Rupert said. “Her experience here as well as in the OAC, as a coach and former student-athlete, along with the background in higher education made Janel stand out to our search committee.”
During her year as interim head coach, Blankespoor led the program through an odd COVID-19 season to a 7-7 mark. She mentored McKayla Binkley to first team All-OAC honors and finished in the top 15 in program history in scoring.
In her first two years on staff as an assistant under head coach Jerry Scheve, who recently retired after 30 years leading the program, Blankespoor helped guide the Quakers to consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference tournament berths. Additionally, guard McKayla Binkley garnered first team All-OAC honors as the league’s leading scorer in 2019-20. That year, Wilmington finished in the top 20 in the country in scoring.
“I’m truly honored to be selected to lead this group of women and the Lady Quaker basketball program as well as remaining active in the Wilmington College community,” said Blankespoor. “Thank you to Dr. Trevor Bates, Dr. Terry Rupert, my colleagues and players for the support and opportunity to take the reins as head coach. As someone who played against Wilmington College during its dominate stretch of time and coached against some very good WC teams as an opposing coach, I have a true appreciation for the storied tradition and history that Jerry Scheve built here. We were successful in laying the groundwork culturally this past year, and as a staff, we are eager to take the next steps, making a positive impact in helping this program to rise back up as one of the top teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference.”
Blankespoor came to Wilmington in 2018 from Georgetown High School where she served as head girls’ basketball coach as well as career and college advisor from the 2017-18 academic year. In addition to coaching high school basketball, Blankespoor aided the student body in all phases of the college admissions process including, but not limited to: applying for scholarships, filling out FAFSA, submitting college applications, etc.
Prior to Georgetown, Blankespoor spent five seasons with the women’s basketball program at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., including the last three years as acting head coach. In two years as an assistant coach, she played a critical role in turning a program that won just four games to a 12-13 campaign during the 2013-14 season.
Blankespoor is no stranger to the OAC as she worked in the office of admission at the University of Mount Union for five years as well as serving as an assistant coach with the Purple Raiders’ women’s basketball program for three seasons prior to her arrival at Earlham. Mount Union enjoyed its most successful three-year stretch during that time, accumulating an overall record of 80-11 including a 46-8 mark in OAC play. The Purple Raiders won two OAC regular season championships as well as claiming the OAC Tournament crown all three years Blankespoor was on staff. She aided head coach Suzy Venet in advancing Mount Union to the second weekend (“Sweet 16”) of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament in both 2010 and 2012.
A 2007 graduate of Otterbein College (now University), Blankespoor (then Iden) was a four-year letter winner with the Cardinals women’s basketball program and was part of the best team in program history in 2003-04. She graduated from Otterbein with a degree in organization communication and later went to earn a master’s degree in higher education administration and student personnel from Kent State University in 2012.
Mitch Blankespoor is the director of athletic communications and an adjunct professor at Wilmington College.