Carol Hutchins, Women’s Track Pioneer and Training Legend, Retires

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A college softball icon has ended his illustrious career.

Carol Hutchins, Michigan’s head coach since 1985 who most notably helped lead the Wolverines to a national championship in 2005, announced her retirement from the UM bench Wednesday after a legendary streak as one of the top coaches of all time in sports: winning an NCAA title -logging 1,707 career games.

Hutchins is a pioneer in women’s athletics, bringing equity and attention to women’s sports, especially before she even became a coach.

A former player and longtime Hutchins assistant, Bonnie Tholl, was named Michigan’s new head coach following the announcement.

Hutchins penned a lengthy statement released by the university in which she expressed her appreciation for the people and figures who supported her during the nearly four decades she spent as Michigan’s head coach.

“I’m very grateful for the relationships this sport has given me,” Hutchins said.

“I want to express my respect and admiration to all of my fellow coaches and opponents as the competition has made softball one of the best sports in college athletics. I appreciate everyone who has ever played a supporting role for Michigan softball, from our athletic trainers and strength coaches to academic advisors, team managers, field staff and the list goes on. They have contributed greatly to our success, and their commitment is greatly appreciated.”

Hutchins’ effect on female athletics cannot be quantified. While an athletics student, Hutchins filed a lawsuit against her school, Michigan State, advocating for better conditions and equal treatment for female athletics, compared to her male counterparts. She won a landmark case and was hired as Michigan’s softball head coach the following year.

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The 18-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, two-time NFCA National Coach of the Year, and winner of 22 Big Ten regular-season titles, first came to Michigan as an assistant to Bob DeCarolis in 1983 after a year as coach. in chief in Division II Ferris State.

Nicknamed “Hutch,” she got her break as head coach for the Wolverines in 1985, for whom Michigan baseball never finished a season with a losing record from then until the end of her tenure. Numerous sports superstars have passed through her program, such as former National Player of the Year Sierra Romero and Olympian Amanda Chidester, but no team is more synonymous with success in Michigan softball history than the 2005 team.

The Wolverines that year became the first college softball team east of the Mississippi River to win a national title since the NCAA began holding a national softball tournament in 1982. It was one of 12 appearances in the Women’s College World Series for Hutchins in his term, also leading Michigan to a second-place finish in 2015.

Hutchins had briefly lost her title as the winningest female coach in the sport after being surpassed by legendary Arizona coach Mike Candrea, but regained the top spot earlier this year following her retirement after the 2021 season.

“Words cannot adequately describe my appreciation for all that Carol Hutchins has done for the University of Michigan, the sport of softball, and the impact she has had on the lives of countless young people,” said Michigan Athletic Director Michigan, Warde Manuel, in the release.

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“I also cannot succinctly articulate my personal sadness at her decision to retire as head coach while I am so happy that Hutch is able to enjoy life beyond the game.”

Hutchins is an NFCA Hall of Famer leaving after leading the Wolverines to their 27th consecutive NCAA Tournament last season, with Michigan eliminated at the Orlando Regional after two losses to UCF.

Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso is now the active nation leader in wins with 1,395 wins to her name at the NCAA level, not counting the time she spent coaching at the college level before leading the Sooners.