Tia Brandel-Wilhelm and the Ferris State University women's volleyball program are deeply intertwined as the Bulldog head coach embarks on her 22nd year at the Bulldog helm in the 2017 campaign. She has also served previously as the department's Senior Women's Administrator at various times during her collegiate coaching career.
Since becoming the program's fifth head coach in June 1996, Brandel-Wilhelm has resurrected the program by guiding the Bulldogs to 11 NCAA Division II National Tournament appearances, which includes nine of the last 12 seasons. In the 2011 season, she directed the Bulldogs to the program's 10th GLIAC Championship and 16th NCAA Tournament berth as FSU posted a 27-4 overall record. The Bulldogs also were 18-1 in league action and earned runner-up honors while hosting the conference postseason tournament.
The Bulldogs followed up a highly-successful 2011 season by posting a 24-8 overall record in 2012 while reaching the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Semifinals for the second consecutive year. FSU also posted a 16-2 mark in GLIAC North Division play and came within a single victory of claiming a second-straight conference championship.
In the 2013 campaign, the Bulldogs captured the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. She earned her 500th career coaching victory by topping archrival Grand Valley State in the regional final on the Lakers' home floor. Brandel-Wilhelm then guided the Bulldogs to a 24-6 mark while winning the GLIAC regular-season and tournament titles for the first time in school history in 2014.
In the 2015 season, Brandel-Wilhelm's Bulldogs vaulted to number one in the nation for the first time in school history. FSU finished with a 33-3 overall record, boasting the nation's highest winning percentage, and claimed both the GLIAC Regular-Season and Tournament Championships. The Bulldogs also hosted the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament and earned runner-up honors.
Ferris State followed up its historic 2015 season by winning a third-straight GLIAC Regular-Season Championship in 2016 and the program's third consecutive league tournament title. FSU also again hosted the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament and reached the D2 Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive campaign.
Success and Brandel-Wilhelm have become synonomous as Ferris State recorded the program's 18th consecutive winning campaign in 2015 as Bulldogs attained double-digits in victories for the 35th consecutive year. In the 2010 season, Brandel-Wilhelm reached another personal coaching milestone by notching her 300th victory at Ferris State following a 3-1 conference triumph at Michigan Tech (Oct. 24). She became FSU's all-time winningest coach in the 2011 campaign.
In 2004, Ferris State claimed its ninth GLIAC Championship after winning the league's annual postseason tournament for the first-time ever under Brandel-Wilhelm.
FSU reached the NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Tournament under Brandel-Wilhelm in 2002. During the 1999 campaign (Nov. 5), Brandel-Wilhelm registered her 200th career coaching victory in the Bulldogs' 3-1 home league win over Grand Valley State. Ferris also finished runner-up at the GLIAC Tournament for the third time in the Brandel-Wilhelm era during the 2001 season.
She notched her 300th all-time victory in 2004 and finished the 2016 season ranked among the nation's Division II active coaches with a 587-216 (.731) career mark in 24 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Her 587 career wins also ranks on the Division II active coaches total victories list and Brandel-Wilhelm is among the leaders in victory percentage for the winningest all-time coaches in the Division II ranks who have a minimum 10 years serving as a Division II head coach.
Through her hard work and dedication, Brandel-Wilhelm continues to earn her place among the nation's most respected collegiate coaches. Faced with the task of rebuilding the Bulldogs' tradition-rich program in her first season, Brandel-Wilhelm proceeded to direct the Bulldogs to a 19-12 overall record and a top 25 national ranking. In the last 16 seasons, Brandel-Wilhelm has coached Ferris to an impressive 399-144 overall record (.735). She was voted as the GLIAC's Coach-of-the-Year for the fifth time in 2016 by her peers.
Brandel-Wilhelm's resume demonstrates a penchant for winning. Prior to joining FSU, she served as head coach for three seasons (1993-95) at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W. Va. Under Brandel-Wilhelm's tutelage, the Bobcats racked up a 118-20 overall record, captured three West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) and regional titles, made two NAIA national tournament appearances, and placed fifth at the 1995 NCAA Division II Championships.
Brandel-Wilhelm left WVWC with an active streak of 80 conference victories. In 1993, she was selected WVIAC and NAIA Mid-South Region Coach-of-the-Year after guiding her team to an impressive 40-11 overall mark in her initial campaign.
Prior to being named head coach at WVWC, Brandel-Wilhelm served as an assistant coach for one season and a graduate assistant for two. She also assisted with West Virginia Wesleyan's track and softball teams.
She earned a master's in business administration from WVWC after receiving her undergraduate degree in business administration and psychology from Alma (Mich.) College in 1990.
Brandel-Wilhelm, who competed in both volleyball and track at Alma, was an all-conference first-team scholar athlete. While attending Alma, she coached volleyball for two years at Alma (Mich.) High School.
A native of Whitehall, Mich., Brandel-Wilhelm is accredited as a level II coach by the United States Volleyball Association. Brandel-Wilhelm, who is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), also has held positions on the NCAA National Volleyball and AVCA Division II Volleyball Coaches Committees.
Brandel-Wilhelm is married to Dale Wilhelm and the couple resides in Big Rapids along with their daughter, Ivie, son, Isaac, and stepson, Allen.