Very few people can say they have won 1,100 softball games. The Illinois State Redbirds Softball Head Coach Melinda Fischer is one of those few people who have.
It was Friday, February 28th in Bowling Green, Kentucky when she once again made history. Fischer coached the ISU Redbirds softball team to two wins against IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis) and Austin Peay in the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Spring Fling tournament.
With the win against Austin Peay, she became the 19 coach in NCAA Division 1 softball history to win 1,100 games. Further, she moved up to No. 11 amongst active coaches in wins, and she also holds the title of the most winningest coach in Illinois State University’s history.
Yet, she was so engrossed in her coaching and team preparation she never realized that she was approaching the historical milestone of 1,100 wins.
“First and foremost, I honestly didn’t know it was even approaching until the weekend before one of our parents asked Tina our head assistant coach; hey, when’s that glove and hundred gonna happen. She said something like two to four games or something like that. I really had no idea that we were even approaching that until that conversation happened.”
Fischer played for the Redbirds when she attended college in Normal and was a major factor for when the Illinois State Redbirds finished second in the 1969 Women’s College World Series. She then went on to graduate Illinois State obtaining her undergraduate and master’s degree.
After a short time coaching Eastern Illinois University’s softball team, Fischer returned to her Alma mater and eventually took over as the head coach of the softball program in 1986.
She said she felt a different kind of joy, being able to give back to Illinois State University a place that she treasures in her heart.
“It’s not about me being special. I don’t mean that by people looking at me like that, it’s from me having done something special for this program and been apart of something special for this university," said Fischer.
"It’s also something special to give back to the place where I graduated from. It’s about me being able to give something special back to a profession, to a university and to everybody that got me started on my career path.”
However, even though softball has played a pivotal role in her life, she never thought a day like this would ever occur.
“Absolutely not… nothing like this entered my mind moving forward, but as you stay in the profession longer you hope that you can reach some of those milestones so that your players can experience that.”
So, what’s next for Illinois State’s Fischer? Even though we are currently looking to stifle the ongoing pandemic, Fischer is still thinking about when this situation will end and the time when they will be able to go back out and play softball.
“My next goal is to get back out on the field, you know in this unprecedented time you’re taking everything one day at a time and you’re preparing for the future. We’d love to bring our players back to honor our seniors since we never got that feeling of closure with this team,” said Fischer.
“Then, moving forward we want to have our fall season but there’s so many other obstacles, concerns and so many other things that need to be taken care of before that can happen. The next goal is to just get back out on the field.”
When you look up winning in Illinois State University’s history you’ll see many names, but one name tops the list and that name is Melinda Fischer.