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New London - Aylene Ilkson, the top assistant at Springfield College, was named head volleyball coach at the Coast Guard Academy on Tuesday.
Ilkson, a four-year starter at Springfield (the Pride were 108-31 during that time) who graduated in 2009, spent the past three seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, helping guide Springfield to an 81-12 overall mark and 24-3 record in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference.
"We're very pleased that Aylene Ilkson has chosen to join us here at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy," athletic director Tim Fitzpatrick said in a statement released by the school. "Women's volleyball has been extremely successful over time here at Coast Guard, and I have no doubt that we will continue to achieve and exceed under Aylene's skillful guidance and instruction.
"She is a bright, enthusiastic, determined and gifted coach who will be an asset to our cadet-athletes from the very beginning. Today is a great day for Bears volleyball."
Ilkson graduated with a degree in Movement and Sports Studies, received her Master's in Athletic Administration and is currently pursuing her certificate of Graduate Studies in Advance Coaching.
"I'm really excited to have the opportunity to work with these elite athletes that also serve their country," Ilkson said. "It's a privilege to work for the Coast Guard Academy and I'm excited to build upon the regional and national success that this program has achieved."
Coast Guard was 18-14 in 2012 and finished 6-3 in the NEWMAC. The Bears return middle blocker Kelsey DePorto, a three-time first team All-NEWMAC performer who led the team with a .356 hitting percentage and 105 blocks and she was second with 274 kills last season.
"First and foremost she is an outstanding human being, a quality leader and a great coach," Springfield head coach Moria Long said. "She knows the game and has passion for volleyball. She will do a great job leading the cadets. I don't relish the date we have to play them. She knows so much about our team and about me. I wish we could have kept her here."
At Springfield, Ilkson coached former East Lyme star Molly Giannattasio, the daughter of former Coast Guard coach Patty Giannatassio, who led the Bears to the NCAA Elite 8 in 2006 and is the school's all-time winningest volleyball (211-99 from 1997-2006).
"Aylene is an extremely competitive and enthusiastic coach who has a solid foundation in the game," Patty Giannatassio said. "I have seen her progress from a player to an assistant coach and encouraged her to step into a head coach role somewhere. She really cares about the players and is excited about learning about the culture at the Coast Guard Academy"