May 7, 2012 By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State head softball coach Margie Wright spoke publically on Monday for the first time since announcing that she would retire at the end of the 2012 season.
Wright made the announcement Sunday evening and on Monday following practice at Bulldog Diamond, the stadium she built before the 1996 season and won 413 games in, she talked about her decision to retire.
"I got into it because I love coaching, I love competition and I love the players and that's how I'm leaving it," Wright said. "The time just seemed right. It's been 27 awesome years in the community and being able to coach all the young women that we've had in the program has really be awesome."
Her accomplishments on the Diamond are as good as it gets. In fact there has been no better coach in the game of softball.
With a 1,454-539-3 (.728) record in 33 seasons as a Division I coach, Wright is softball's all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. She is 1,291-448-1 (.742) in 27 seasons at Fresno State and has brought the program to unparalleled heights, including the 1998 NCAA National Championship that was the school's first-ever NCAA Division I team title.
"Margie Wright has shared her passion for excellence with hundreds of student-athletes, inspiring them to be achievers in the classroom and the diamond," Fresno State President Dr. John D. Welty said. "Her legacy includes Olympic medal winners, All-Americans and former players who have followed her into coaching.
"Margie's community connection has brought thousands of people to campus. She has been a steadfast advocate for expanding and improving athletics for women. Margie Wright built a solid foundation for Fresno State softball and it's difficult to imagine her not being in the dugout with her players. We thank her for 27 outstanding years of coaching Bulldog softball."
Wright has led the Bulldogs to 10 NCAA Women's College World Series appearances. She also has led the program to three national runner-up finishes, three third place showings and three fifth-place performances in the WCWS. In addition, the 10-time conference coach of the year has led the softball program to 17 outright or shared conference titles.
"Of course the national championship is a highlight," Wright said about the highlights of her career. "I think more of a highlight to me is just about every kid that went through their four years at Fresno State graduated."
Wright has coached 16 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans - a mark that ranks her No. 1 overall among active coaches while the softball program ranks third overall among Division I schools with 18 honorees. Wright also has overseen 138 all-conference picks, 89 NCAA All-Region, 53 All-Americans, 16 NCAA individual statistical champions, four NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Award winners, two NCAA Top VIII Awardees, 15 Olympians, eight professionals and two No. 1 professional draft picks while averaging 48 wins a season.
Even with Sunday's announcement, the fire still burns in her to win.
"The WAC Tournament's next," Wright said when asked what was next for her. "After that, hopefully regionals and trying to get [this team] to go as far as they can go."
The legendary coach ushers her team down to Las Cruces, N.M. this week as the Bulldogs look to capture the WAC Championship.
Fresno State opens up the WAC Tournament as the No. 3 seed and plays No. 6 seed Louisiana Tech on Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT.
More Quotes from Wright
Why did you decide to announce your retirement now?
"There is really never a right time to do this, to announce that you are going to retire. To me, the wrong time to do it is when everything is done and you tell your team when everybody goes home for the summer. There's absolutely no closure and I didn't want any player on this team to have regrets for this year. They have an opportunity to change that if they want. It was a late determination that this was going to happen and there is never a good time, but to me, the time when you don't do it is when everything is settled down."
How difficult was it for you to come to this decision?
"It's probably one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. It still is and I'm sure this is going to take me a while to get used to, to try to wrap my arms around it. It's a high-stress job, especially after you've won and people expect that from you."
Is Bulldog Diamond the House that Margie Wright built?
"Well I didn't hammer any nails or anything, but I have to say there is a lot of my blood, sweat and tears in this stadium which I'm very proud of. What it did, it led all of the BCS schools having to build something comparable because they had the money to do it and it really uplifted the sport of softball tremendously."
When people talk about Margie Wright a few years from now, what do you want them to say?
"I just want them to say everything I did, I did with integrity and a lot of passion and was willing to fight for what I thought was right."
"I feel very, very good about my days here and I hope the community feels the same way."
"I'll miss the players the most and I'll miss the competition. I love competition, I don't care who it is. That's what keeps you going."
"We Are Your Team" - ESPN2 790 AM is your home for Fresno State Softball.
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