Lance Loya is in his tenth season as head coach of the Mounties men's basketball team. During Loya's tenure, the program has enjoyed considerable growth. The Mountie mentor has guided the program through the institution's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division III.
With a win over Hilbert College on January 9, 2010, Loya became Mount Aloysius College's all-time winningest coach.
Loya entered the collegiate coaching ranks at Mount Aloysius College at the age of 27, which made him at the time one of the youngest head coaches in the nation. In his first season as men's basketball coach, the Mounties showed signs of promise, despite finishing the season with a record of 5-20.
It did not take long for the program to experience a heightened level of growth, however, as they quickly improved to 12-13 in 2005-06. Loya's 2009-10 team finished the season with a winning record, and became the first Mount Aloysius team is school history to defeat a nationally ranked opponent. His 2009-10 team also finished the season ranked 10th in the nation in assists.
His 2010-11 team finished ranked in the top ten in the nation in four different statistical categories--scoring, steals, three point field goals, and assists. The 2011-12 edition of the Mounties again ranked in the top ten in the nation in several statistical categories, including points per game.
In 2012-13, Loya led the Mounties to a its highest number of wins since Mount Aloysius became a four-year college in the mid-nineties. For its sixth straight year, the Mounties led the conference in scoring and attendance.
Loya's teams make the most of an aggressive offensive attack, frequently topping the triple digit plateau. Since adopting an up-tempo style of play, the crowds and enthusiasm at Mounties games have grown significantly. Loya was instrumental in the development of the Mountie Maniac student cheering section and Mountie Madness, the college's largest and most popular tradition.
Though innovative in his coaching techniques, Loya's philosophies are still deeply grounded in a strict adherence to discipline and good sportsmanship. His efforts to instill these values in the Mounties men's basketball program were recognized by the Collegiate Basketball Officials Association (CBOA), as he was presented with the Schoenfeld Award for sportsmanship, character, and ethics.
Loya is committed to community and charity involvement. Each year, his team's participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and he also organizes the Coaches vs. Cancer coaching clinic. Loya has additionally become a popular guest speaker at area civic functions and school banquets.
As a player, the former Garrett College and University of South Carolina-Upstate point guard garnered a reputation for being a "coach" on the court and true student of the game, earning Academic All-American honors in 1998. However, Loya's transition from player to coach has seen some unconventional twists.
Before taking over the Mount Aloysius reins, Loya served for two years as the head boys varsity basketball coach at Berlin Brothersvalley High School. But prior to that, he made use of his enthusiastic personality as a morning show disc jockey for Power 99.1 radio's "Morning Zoo."
Coach Loya's unparalleled love for the game of basketball has literally spanned the globe. Having spent time overseas, he has worked diligently to develop a close relationship with several European basketball organizations, and is committed to helping the game of basketball grow in worldwide popularity.
Loya holds a bachelors degree in Theatre, and a masters degree in Sports Management. He is additionally a nationally certified strength and conditioning coach. He and his wife Rachel reside in nearby Johnstown, PA, with their daughters Laken and Lakota.
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A.J. Bender became a member of the Mounties coaching staff in 2009, but was no stranger to the program. He played four seasons under Coach Loya, and is a proud 2007 Mount Aloysius graduate.
Bender excelled on the hardwood for the Mounties. He was a three-year starting point guard, and finished his career as the College's all-time steals leader.
A native of Garrett County, MD, Bender is the son of two highly respected educators. Both of his parents are former recipients of Teacher of the Year honors in the state of Maryland.
Bender prides himself on paying attention to detail and being prepared for practice and games.
His love for the game has been passed down from his father, who coached 20 plus years at the high school level in Maryland and also from his uncle who has coached at Radford University, Indiana State University, Tulane University, and is currently an assistant at Clemson University.
Bender is also employed as an admissions counselor in the Mount Aloysius College Enrollment Management office.
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