Michigan Wolverines softball head coach Carol Hutchins is retiring. After 38 years as head coach in Ann Arbor — 39 years as a head coach in total — the Wolverines legend is finally riding off into a well-deserved sunset.
Hutchins never had a losing season as head coach at Michigan and compiled an unassailable resume by any standards by becoming the winningest coach in NCAA softball history with 1,707 victories, with a career winning percentage of .755 (1,707-555-5).
Hutchins made history in 2005 with Michigan to become the first program east of the Mississippi River to win an NCAA softball national championship. In total, Hutchins won 22 Big Ten championships and 10 Big Ten Tournaments. She made 29 NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 Women’s College World Series appearances.
In her retirement statement, the always classy and warm Hutchins reflected on her time in Ann Arbor, from the athletic directors served, assistant coaches, to the rivals bested and the fans and alums who made this experience so special for her:
“I want to begin by expressing that today I am filled with pride, love, humility and gratitude, 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.
“There are countless people to thank, and I want to start with Bob DeCarolis for bringing me to Ann Arbor 40 years ago, and giving me this unbelievable opportunity. I have served nine athletic directors and want to express my gratitude to each of them for their continued commitment toward the growth of women’s athletics and softball here at Michigan. I especially want to thank Warde Manuel and Lisa Savoury for their tremendous support for me personally and for our program.
“I am most thankful for the relationships that this sport has given me. I want to express my respect for and admiration to all of my coaching colleagues and rivals, as the competition has made softball one of the greatest sports in college athletics. I thank everyone who has ever served in a support role for Michigan softball, from our athletic trainers and strength coaches to academic counselors, equipment managers, field crew, and the list goes on. They have contributed greatly to our success, and their commitment is so appreciated. I especially want to thank the staffs that served Michigan with me over many years but in particular my longtime assistant coaches Jennifer Brundage and Bonnie Tholl whose loyalty and commitment is unparalleled. I am forever indebted to and share all success with them.
“To the fans of Alumni Field, YOU are the BEST, and I will love you all forever. Thank you for creating one of the best environments in college softball. And to all the Women of Michigan softball, the alumnae who built this program since 1978, I am so honored to have been a part of your lives and journeys. 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.
“For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good Luck. And forever, Go Blue!”
Athletic Director Warde Manuel offered his sentiments of Hutchins’ retirement:
“Words can not adequately describe my appreciation for all that Carol Hutchins has done for the University of Michigan, the sport of softball, nor for the impact she has had on the lives of countless young people. I also cannot succinctly articulate my personal sadness at her decision to retire from coaching while being so happy that Hutch can enjoy life beyond the game. Hutch is a force who elevated not only the sport of softball but generations of female athletes as a staunch advocate of equality. 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.”
Hutchins is the standard by which all coaches should be held, but all will fall short. A coaching giant who was only overshadowed by her kindness, Hutchins is an irreplaceable one of one.
Although she attended school in East Lansing, Hutchins is the most prominent member of the Michigan Wolverines family whose name is synonymous with ‘Michigan Woman.’
Thank you, Hutch!