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Margo Jonker discusses retirement, will help Alford find next softball coach


Former softball coach Margo Jonker (right) answers questions from reporters as CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford (left) watches on May 17 in the Rose Center.

When Margo Jonker announced her retirement from the Central Michigan softball team, she immediately left behind a significant void – one that was filled for the last 40 years. 

Jonker's retirement becomes official on June 30. She expressed her thankfulness for the opportunity to build a program from the ground up when addressing the media for the first time since her departure announcement.

"I've had a storied career and I've been very fortunate," Jonker said. "I've worked with some of the best players in the world and with some of the best people in the world."

One of the biggest questions outside of why she made her decision is who will serve as Jonker's successor. 

While replacing a legendary coach seems like a daunting task for any program, CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford will be faced with that assignment before the 2020 spring season. He said that a national search is underway for Jonker's successor, but added that she will have a hand in selecting who will lead the Chippewas next season.

"When you go through the softball community, she's known by one name – Margo," Alford said. "That's the impact she's had on this game. I'm going to be reaching out to my contacts and run names by coach and get her insight. It's her program and always has been, so we definitely want her input on people that we're thinking about bringing in and talking to."

For some of the qualities that the next coach needs to have, Alford joked that they need to parallel Jonker. They need to have a passion for the game, care for their student-athletes and, of course, win. 

Jonker seconded Alford's thought, adding that playing the game the right way is of the utmost importance for anyone in her program, especially its leader.

"I'm always looking for that, they know how to win," Jonker said. " I think that's huge that they treat their student-athletes the way they deserve to be treated and that they respect and have a passion for the game, it's all about ethics." 

Obviously, only time will tell as to who will take the reins of the program and play in the stadium that dons the name of its legendary and longtime coach.

With that said, Alford made note that whoever takes over will inherit a strong program that is on the edge of major success.

"The program is such a tradition-rich program," Alford said. "The people that have reached out to me already with interest has been overwhelming because of (Jonker). They know they're taking over a program that has tradition. 

"It's not a rebuild. We're there right now; we're close because of the student-athletes we have and because of (Jonker) and her expertise."