Margo Jonker recalls favorite moments during time spent as CMU's softball coach
Margo Jonker spent 40 years coaching softball at Central Michigan, but she said it sure doesn't seem that way.
Because, of course, time flies when you're having fun.
Her teams have seen plenty of success on and off the field, and Jonker recently announced that her time with the Chippewas has come to a close.
As Jonker prepares for the next chapter in her life, she gave some insight into her decision, a few top memories and watch she learned as a longtime coach.
When it comes to the next chapter, she isn't sure what the plan is, and she's absolutely OK with that. She doesn’t plan to rush to make that decision anytime soon.
“I have decided not to do anything for a year and just kind of see how things play out,” Jonker said. "And make no decisions for at least a year.”
Time to rest is something she has certainly earned. Her career has been filled with a tremendous amount of success and recognition, but that wasn’t always Jonker's plan.
“I came as a graduate assistant," she said. "I thought it was a two-year gig and then it just kind of moved to another year, full-time and then another year, the same thing,” Jonker said. "Then, it just continued on.”
When Jonker started working with the program, she recalls that women’s sports did not have the place in society that they do now. As a result, few schools treated softball with respect or gave the funding that teams needed.
CMU’s early commitment to softball allowed Jonker to build a successful program quickly. Under her leadership, the Chippewas captured their first Mid-American Conference title in 1982. It was just Jonker's third year with the program.
Over the years, her teams earned NCAA tournament bids and won MAC regular season and postseason titles. Jonker’s career is filled with so many moments that it’s hard to imagine how she can recall so many of them.
“The one tournament was in ’82," Jonker said. "We went to the college world series. We were behind in the game for the MAC Championship, and it was like we were going to lose in third place. I knew the administration would not be happy about all this.
“Every pinch hitter we put in got a hit: Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. We came back and won.”
And while games like that may stick out forever, the players and the moments are what Jonker remembers most.
“Seeing that excitement in their eyes, to me, that’s the most rewarding part of it all," Jonker said. "Those are the memories you’ll have as well as, of course, the alumni coming back.
"Certain games, yes, there are certain games that I remember a lot, but it's more the individual plays. Trista Cox's home run to win the MAC Tournament, I mean there's time-after-time-after-time different things that I remember throughout, a lot of awesome memories."
Her time leading the program has been extraordinary, and she has left with so many memories. Jonker is the reason the great tradition of excellence for the softball program in Mount Pleasant.
“I’ve had a storied career. I’ve been very fortunate, worked with the best players in the world and worked with the USA team," Jonker said.
"I’ve worked with some of the best people in the world, both here and there.”