Holy Cross College Director of Athletics, Aimee Niespodziany, is pleased to announce the hiring of Steve Bender as the first head coach of the Saints men's and women's tennis programs. Bender, a retired Buchanan High School educator and most recently Saint Joseph High School tennis coach, will begin immediately with recruiting for the program's first year of competition to be played in the fall of 2017. Adding men's and women's tennis programs is part of a planned expansion of Holy Cross College, which has included new science majors and the acquisition of the old St. Joseph High School building this year.
Bender, a 1978 Albion College graduate, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the launch of the inaugural tennis program as a player and coach. During his four years at Albion, Bender was a member of the Brits tennis team along with being a member of the swim team and a student assistant for men's basketball. He was inducted into the Albion College Hall of Fame in 1993.
After college, Bender began his career as an educator and coach at Buchanan High School. For 32 years, Bender taught English courses as well as some Physical Education and Communication classes. Bender was at the helm of Buchanan's men's tennis program for 23 years. The program he built became one of the most successful programs in the Michigan High School Athletic Association, adding a state title in 2003. In 2011, Bender was given the distinct honor of being named not only to the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, but also to the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame for his success across all sports he was involved in at Buchanan. Buchanan honored Coach Bender in 2015, by inducting him into their hall of fame. For the past seven years, Bender has been the head coach of the men's tennis team at Saint Joseph High School, where success has followed him, being named NIC Coach of the Year three times.
Bender has also specialized in general and advanced fitness as his time as a physical educator and coach. He was also in charge and instructed Notre Dame's Coaching Concentration Program for 5 years.
Currently the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference has 8 men's tennis programs and 9 women's tennis programs competing. For the past two years, Cardinal Stritch and Olivet Nazarene have dominated the conference finishing in the top two spots and finishing the season ranked in the top 25.
"We are blessed to have Steve lead our first ever men's and women's tennis programs. He knows how to win, and he knows how to do it in the right way. His wealth of knowledge and experience in not only tennis, but coaching will be a great asset to our athletic department," Athletic Director Aimee Niespodziany stated. "He is a tireless worker who knows how to recruit top talent. Holy Cross is growing as a college and an athletic department, and I am glad we have Steve here to join us in that mission."
"Ten years ago I sent an email to Holy Cross stating that I felt that starting a tennis program there would be a hidden gem. Now the college has made a commitment to the tennis program, and I am blessed to be chosen to lead the way," said Bender. "After 38 years of coaching, this is a dream come true and a challenge I embrace."