Janelle Benner is entering her eighth season as the head coach of Ursinus College after spending the 2010 campaign as associate head coach. During her first six years at the helm, Benner has compiled a 108-39 overall record and a 59-11 Centennial Conference mark, including a perfect 10-0 standing in the conference in 2014. Benner has led the Bears to five CC championships, including four in a row from 2013 to 2016, and to five NCAA Tournament appearances. Ursinus reached the national semifinals in 2011 and 2015.
The Bears made it a CC four-peat in 2016, edging Franklin & Marshall on Bridget Sherry's overtime penalty stroke in the championship tilt. Ursinus went on to defeat Trinity (Conn.) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before suffering a 1-0 setback to Salisbury in the quarterfinals. The Bears finished a perfect 10-0 at home, including victories over No. 6 William Smith and No. 12 Muhlenberg in addition to the thrilling CC tile game showdown.
The 2015 season resulted in the Bears' 11th CC crown in the past 12 years. Ursinus suffered a 2-0 setback to Franklin & Marshall for its lone regular-season league loss, but got revenge with a 1-0 victory in the conference title game. The Red and Old Gold matched an NCAA Tournament record for margin of victory with a 10-0 whitewashing of Stevens in the first round before a 5-0 shutout of Rochester (N.Y.) sent the Bears to the Final Four for the first time in three years. Their season came to an end with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of unbeaten Bowdoin.
During the 2014 campaign, Benner guided the Bears to a 17-4 overall record, a 10-0 CC record and the CC championship, and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where Ursinus advanced to the regional final before falling to Middlebury, 5-1.
In Benner’s first year in charge, the Bears finished 19-4 overall and 9-1 in conference play and won the league championship for the eighth straight season, defeating Franklin & Marshall by a score of 2-1. The Bears then went on to defeat Christopher Newport, Messiah, and Salisbury en route to another appearance in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III tournament.
Prior to Ursinus, Benner spent three seasons as the head coach of Manheim Central High School, where she racked up three Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff appearances and two Pennsylvania District III playoff appearances.
Benner is a 2006 Graduate of Old Dominion University, where she was a team captain as a junior and senior. During her career Benner helped lead the Monarchs to three CAA championships, four NCAA Tournament berths, and a pair of Final Fours. As a senior in 2005, she was named CAA Player of the Year, VASID (Virginia Association of Sports Information Directors) Player of the Year, and the ODU Female Athlete of the Year in addition to recognition as a first team All-American and member of the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Benner was inducted into the ODU Hall of Fame in 2017.
Benner was also a star off the field. She graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade point average and was named an ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic First-Team All American, CAA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and a four-time NFHCA Academic All-American. As a senior, Benner was a 2006 NCAA Woman of the Year Finalist.
Benner is also a coach for the Nook Field Hockey Club and the High Intensity Team Camps held at the Nook, and was formerly a US Field Hockey Futures Elite Instructor. Benner coached the US Masters Field Hockey O55 team in the 2018 Masters World Cup in Spain.
Benner also has a passion for music, in particular the violin. She had played since she was three years old and was an orchestra director at Manheim Central. Benner was concert master of the Old Dominion Symphony Orchestra and 1st chair violinist of the Diehn String Quartet. She and her husband Joel have two children, Simon and Leo.