The fireworks came early this week at Culver Academies. Director of Athletics Louise Ericson and Director of Enrollment Management Staci Hundt announce the hiring of Cory Whitaker as the new Head Girls Hockey Coach and Assistant Director of Admissions. Whitaker replaces Brian Idalski, who resigned last month to pursue international opportunities.
“I’m extremely excited about this opportunity to develop the next generation of leaders, both on and off the ice,” said Whitaker. From the second I stepped on campus, I could tell how special a place Culver is and could feel the passion from everyone I met. It made me want to be a part of this community! I want to thank Scott Spencer for his mentorship, friendship, and loyalty. I learned more from him than I could ever put into words. Also, I’d like to thank Mrs. Ericson, Mrs. Hundt, and Dr. Bird for trusting me to lead this program. I look forward to getting to know the girls and building on the success Coach Idalski started here.”
Whitaker spent the last seven years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in the women’s hockey program at NCAA Divison I Lindenwood University (St. Louis, MO). His contributions as the program’s goalie coach were highlighted in his development of Nicole Hensley, one of the all-time top women’s goalies in NCAA Division I history and USA National Team and 2018 Olympic gold medalist. Whitaker is well seasoned on the USA Hockey front, having served in lead coach, head coach, and evaluator roles for numerous national development camps and multiple districts. Prior to Lindenwood, Whitaker was the head coach at Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI) from 2007-12 where he started the program and in just his second season, helped the Lakers earn a bid to the ACHA National Tournament. At GVSU, Whitaker coached multiple All-Americans and earned the AHCA Women’s Division I Coach of the Year in 2010. During that stint, he also served as a defensive and goalie coach for Team USA at the World University Games.
“We are thrilled to have Cory join our program,” said Ericson. “His strength in recruiting and his ability to connect with student-athletes and adults alike will ensure his success here at Culver for years to come. His vision paired with his understanding of player development will propel our girls program forward as we grow and expand our Tier-I girls hockey program towards national prominence. Most importantly, Cory’s character as a person and leader will undoubtedly enrich our campus community.”
Whitaker’s collegiate experience as a goaltender at Grand Valley State University, where he boasted a .903 career save percentage, garnered him first team all-conference and all-star honors in the AHCA Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference. A native of Grand Rapids, MI, Whitaker earned a bachelor of science degree in Physical Education and Corporate Fitness/Wellness from GVSU in 2001. He holds a USA Hockey Level IV Coaching Certification and is an active member of both the American Hockey Coaches Association and American Women’s Hockey Coaches Association.
“Cory’s demonstrated record of building relationships with families make him an ideal candidate for the admissions assistant director role,” added Hundt. “His work ethic, collaborative nature, and commitment to excellence will make him an outstanding addition to our team.”
Whitaker, along with his wife Julie and children Jaren (14) and Reagan (11), will join the Culver community in early August.