June 10, 2012 By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State Athletics, Bulldog softball fans, former players and members of the community all gathered Sunday at Bulldog Diamond to celebrate the career of retiring softball coach Margie Wright.
Fresno State put on an hour and a half ceremony to celebrate Wright's legacy, as she has guided the Bulldog softball program for the past 27 years. Wright announced her retirement back in early May and it becomes effective June 30, 2012. She is retiring as the all-time winningest Division I softball coach in NCAA history.
"It's been an outstanding opportunity," Wright told the crowd Sunday. "I can never thank the players enough...every one of them touched my life in a different way and in a special way. The players are one of the reasons I stayed here for 27 years and I think next to them are the fans. Clearly we have the best fans in the country here."
The 90-plus minute presentation featured 17 guest speakers that ranged from former players, former and current administrators to executives and business owners throughout the community. All touched on how Wright changed the lives of so many and the impact she had on the community and in women's athletics.
"When we hired her we knew she was a winner," said former Fresno State Director of Athletics Jack Lengyel, who hired Wright to coach the Bulldogs 27 years ago. "I believe a true measure of a coach's career is what she leaves behind when she retires.
"Certainly records are bench-marks, but the true yardstick in my opinion is the lives of those you have touched as a coach, as a teacher and as a friend. Certainly the crowd here today is a testament to her career."
Current Fresno State Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh said that Margie Wright is the best coach he's ever seen.
"It is clear that she demonstrated extraordinary dedication over a lifetime here at Fresno State, both to the student-athletes, to the department, to the sport of softball and to this University," Boeh said. "For that I am eternally grateful for her efforts and the success that she has brought us over the years."
Fresno State president Dr. John D. Welty said that Sunday was a day to reflect on how University's transform lives through great teachers like Wright.
"You've heard from just a few of the student-athletes whose lives have been transformed by coach Wright," Welty said. "We could not be more grateful and thankful for what [she's] done, the lives [she] touched and the difference that [she] made."
A member from one of Wright's first teams at Fresno State, Martha Noffsinger (1987-90), touched on how she was able to get the best out of her teams.
"She pulled out the very best in us when we didn't believe we had it," Noffsinger said. "And her record absolutely shows for it."
In 27 years at Fresno State, she compiled a 1,294-450-1 (.742) record, which most likely will never be matched. Her 33-year coaching career, which included six seasons at Illinois State (1980-85), is 1,457-542-3 (.728).
"When I think of coach and when I think of this program, I think of someone who is just an incredible trailblazer and a true champion," said Amanda Scott, who was the MVP of the 1998 Women's College World Series when Wright led the team to the National Championship. "I think you talk about wins, we talk about All-Americans, we talk about national championships and those are all a big deal, but it is such a reflection of her blood sweat and tears."
The emotional ceremony ended with Boeh and President Welty presenting Wright with a commemorative poster honoring her career.
Other Quotes from Sunday's Ceremony
"I was very blessed to be a part of your 1998 national championship team. You will never be replaced at Fresno State, you are Fresno State." - Former Bulldog All-American Laura Berg (1994-98) in a letter read by MC Pat Ogle.
"When I began my career in Division I coaching, one of my first moves was to find out if there was any Division I coach out there that might help mentor me through the process on how to develop a winning program. I love the style of play of Fresno State. It was hustle, hard work, passion, intensity, competitive and driven. This was the style I wanted to emulate at the University of Oklahoma. But, would a big-time coach like Margie Wright ever consider sharing her philosophies and ideas with me, the new kid on the block. Margie was so gracious and so anxious to share. Her commitment was not only to her players and to her program, but to share her knowledge and ideas to advance the sport of softball. I am so extremely grateful to Margie for opening that door for me and much of my success today I attribute to having a strong mentor like Margie Wright. She is a wonderful person with a wonderful heart and gave her heart every day to Fresno State in the sport of softball. She is a Title IX pioneer who singlehandedly fought for the rights of women when it wasn't a popular thing to do. Softball coaches around the country need to understand that Margie Wright is the reason we have grand stadiums, better salaries and workable budgets. She is an advocate for equality and today we all benefit from Margie's fight for what is right. There is no one in our sport that has made such an impact. I can't thank coach Wright enough for all that she has shared with me and all that she has done to make us all better. She will always be the greatest coach to ever grace a softball field and a softball legend. The sport will not be the same without her in the third-base coaching box. Thank you coach Wright. " - Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso in a letter read by MC Pat Ogle.
"No question Margie has been an ambassador for not only Fresno State, but Fresno County. We are a national leader and have become nationally know because of Margie." - Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea
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