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Carol Hutchins reflects on legendary career, stadium dedication

Everyone knows this was the house that Hutch built, but now it’ll stand the test of time.

Syndication: DetroitFreePress Alec Cohen, Special to Detroit Free Press

Before Game 2 of the Northwestern series, the Michigan Wolverines softball team officially unveiled its stadium’s new moniker — Alumni Field at Carol Hutchins Stadium, or “The Hutch” for short.

Accompanied by family, friends and almost two dozen former players, Hutchins was there to see the unveiling and admitted to a wave emotions following the 15-0 victory.

“It’s just really humbling,” Hutchins said. “You want your student-athletes to have an amazing experience when they come here, but no one’s had it more amazing than me. So I just wanted to get through it without getting emotional and tried to enjoy the moment. It was incredibly honoring.”

While the name change is new, this has always been the house that Hutch built. From sifting the dirt and picking weeds herself when the department wouldn’t provide a field crew, to fighting tooth and nail for every renovation that has made it a cathedral of the sport, there is practically nothing Hutchins hasn’t had a hand in making a reality here for her team.

As current head coach Bonnie Tholl attested, the Wolverines and Hutchins are inherently tied together.

“Hutch’s fingerprints are all over this program, and I might be the one who’s the head coach right now, but this is Carol Hutchins’ program,” Tholl said. “She doesn’t just show players how to field balls and swing bats, she empowers them. And that’s really the greatest gift Carol Hutchins has given this program — showing young women how to be strong, empowered women.”

Originally named Varsity Diamond, Hutchins renamed the field in 1992 in honor of her former players. With a sly smile, Hutchins joked she hadn’t been aware back then the approval of the department, nor the regents were needed for such a change, as was the case this past March.

While Hutchins was quick to brush aside her being the lone force behind the stadium’s development — citing former athletic director Bill Martin for the massive expansion following the 2005 National Championship and Dave Brandon for the overhaul of the team’s clubhouse in 2014 — she emphasized the stadium’s renaming in her honor as a reminder the fight for equality she has championed her entire career continues to this day.

“I always tell people I went through the whole evolution of Title IX,” Hutchins said. “I was just a little bit younger than (the student media in attendance) when it passed and all these opportunities were created because of a law, because we had to have a law that forced to do the right thing and treat girls just as good as they treat boys. But everything has been a challenge, and we’ve had to fight for things for so long past that. The challenges aren’t over in any aspect, and laws only work if you use it.”