Sunday, May 26, 2024

Michigan’s Carol Hutchins, NCAA’s winningest softball coach, retires after 38 years

Carol Hutchins is retiring as the NCAA’s winningest softball coach after 38 years at the helm of the Michigan Wolverines, the program announced on Wednesday. 

“I want to begin by expressing that today I am filled with pride, love, humility and gratitude,” Hutchins said on a statement. “I have served as the head coach of Michigan softball for 38 years, and I am incredibly grateful to the university for this opportunity of a lifetime. I will forever bleed blue.”

Hutchins has been with the program since 1983 when she joined the Wolverines as an assistant coach under Bob DeCarolis. She took over the program two years later. 

Since becoming head coach, Hutchins has not had a losing season at Michigan. She is stepping down with an overall record of 1,707-555-5. That record includes a 65-7 season in 2005, when the Wolverines won the NCAA championship, becoming the first team east of the Mississippi River to win it.

Hutchins’ teams saw 29 NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 Women’s College World Series appearances. They also registered 22 Big Ten Conference championships and 10 Big Ten Tournament trophies. Her achievements go beyond softball, as Hutchins is the winningest coach in Michigan athletics history.

She has a terrific resume, but Wolverines’ athletic director Warde Manuel said her impact was beyond of what she achieved on the field.

“Hutch is a force who elevated not only the sport of softball but generations of female athletes as a staunch advocate of equality,” Manuel said on a statement. “She has been a tireless fundraiser for societal causes, including the American Cancer Society, and I know that she will continue to impact lives beyond the game of softball. Carol Hutchins is a legend.”

In her goodbye statement, Hutchins said she had multiple people to thank for their support through her career. She worked under nine different athletic directors and worked along several other staff members. She thanked all of them, but gave a special shoutout to her longtime assistant coaches Jennifer Brundage and Bonnie Tholl. Hutchins also took time to thank the fans and alumni who made Michigan such a special place.

“You don’t go to Michigan for four years, you go to Michigan for life. As a coach, my greatest joy and the ultimate reward has not been measured in wins and championships. Success is measured by the many, many people who fill your life,” Hutchins said.

“For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good Luck. And forever, Go Blue!”

Later on Wednesday, the school announced that Tholl will be taking over the program. Tholl is entering her 30th season with the Wolverines, including the last 20 years as associate head coach.

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