CMU softball coach to retire after 40 years

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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (WOOD) — After 40 years as the head coach of the Central Michigan softball program, Margo Jonker believes it is her time to step down, CMU Athletics announced Monday.

The Holland native leaves the program with the CMU softball field being named after her in 2008.

A 1976 graduate of Grand Valley State University, Jonker joined the CMU athletic department in 1979 and was named the head coach by 1980. She finished with a 1,268-808-7 overall record, good for the ninth-most wins in NCAA Division I softball history.

During that span, Jonker led the Chippewas to 13 NCAA Tournaments, 10 Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament titles. She made one appearance in the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

As far as individual awards, Jonker had plenty. She won the MAC coach of the year 10 times, NCAA Mideast Region coach of the year in 1987 and the Great Lakes Regional coach of the year in 1994 and 2000. Jonker was an assistant coach when the 2000 U.S. Olympic softball team won a gold medal in Sydney, Australia.

Jonker coached eight All-Americans and 53 all-Region athletes. In her league, she coached 87 All-MAC First Team members and 39 players selected to the All-MAC Second Team.

“It has been an amazing 40 seasons and I will really miss working with these fantastic student-athletes, but it is time for me to step aside and let someone else be the gatekeeper for this program,” Jonker said in a press release. “It is never easy to leave something you love but I am so thankful to have so many amazing memories. Everything accomplished during my time here is because of the young women who have come through this program and one of the things I still enjoy most is when they come back, and I can see what outstanding people they have become.

“While I will miss the day-to-day coaching, I will always love this sport and the great people who are in it.”

Jonker’s retirement will become effective June 30.

She will still provide guidance for the program until CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford names a new head coach.

“She has had an amazing impact on hundreds of student-athletes, making sure that their success was always the top priority,” Alford said in the press release. “Her success on the field is unmatched but even greater is the fact that nearly every young woman that went through her program graduated and went on to success in their adult lives. Our entire department will miss her immensely and I hope she stays connected to our program because she will always be a tremendous resource.”

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