Cardinal Stritch athletic director Tim Van Alstine didn't need to look too far to find the school's next director of soccer.
Jaime Bladen (UW-Milwaukee) was promoted to the position overseeing the Wolves' men's and women's teams after serving as an assistant to Kevin Brennan for the past two years. Brennan left Stritch in March to take a role as an assistant in the women's program at NCAA Division I Drake in Des Moines, Iowa.
"Jamie has done everything he needed to do to earn this opportunity," Van Alstine said in a news release earlier this month. "Clearly, he has both the playing experience and the coaching experience required to be successful coaching at a very competitive collegiate program. Stritch soccer has been quite successful in the past and I know Jamie will continue our long-standing tradition of success."
The 25-year-old Bladen played the 2011 and '12 seasons at UW-Milwaukee after transferring from Division II Lees-McRae College (N.C.). A native of Doncaster, England, Bladen had four goals and three assists in 27 appearances (all starts) with the Panthers, and served as a student assistant coach for the team in 2013.
Bladen also had nine goals and 10 assists in 43 games for Lees-McRae over the 2009 and '10 seasons – as a freshman, he scored game-winning goals in the first and third rounds of the NCAA tournament and converted the decisive penalty kick in a shootout in the national semifinals as the Bobcats advanced to the final.
"I am delighted to accept this opportunity to lead these two promising programs onto the next level. I would like to thank Dr. Tim Van Alstine, who has shown great confidence in my abilities and leadership, in providing me with this amazing opportunity," Bladen said in the news release. "My commitment to providing the best overall experience for our student-athletes is a top priority and one that is shared throughout our great coaching staff here at Stritch."
The Wolves men's team posted a 9-8-1 record last season, finishing sixth in the 13-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a 7-5-0 mark. The Stritch women went 12-7-0 overall and also claimed sixth in the CCAC at 7-5-0.
Bladen, who played on the youth and reserve teams for Scunthorpe United FC in England, also coaches club soccer with FC Wisconsin Nationals.
"Over the past two years, Jamie has earned the respect of our student-athletes and I know he is well respected among the high school levels and within the regional soccer club circuit," Van Alstine said.