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Longtime ISU softball coach Melinda Fischer retires after 37 seasons with the Redbirds

Melinda Fischer
Longtime ISU softball coach Melinda Fischer is retiring.

Illinois State University softball coach Melinda Fischer announced her retirement on Sunday after 37 seasons with the Redbirds. Her longtime assistant coach, Tina Kramos, was named her successor.

Fischer has more wins (1,118) than any coach in ISU history. She’s been inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, ISU Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame, and ISU’s College of Applied Science and Technology Hall of Fame. Fischer led the Redbirds to 10 regular-season Missouri Valley Conference titles, most recently in 2021, as well as five MVC Tournament titles.

“I’m not sure there are enough words or the right words to express the enormous amount of gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation, and love I have for being a part of Illinois State University and Redbird Athletics,” Fischer said in a statement Sunday. “I am very fortunate to have been surrounded by many great people from Presidents, Athletic Directors, Athletic Administrators, Faculty, all our athletic staff, fans, supporters, alumni and most importantly, our coaches and student-athletes. We all know in this profession that winning is very important and that certainly matters, but what really matters to me is the development of the student-athletes and the total experience they have during their careers. I am so proud to have had the tremendous opportunity to lead this program for 37 years.”

ISU Athletics Director Kyle Brennan said “Fischer’s legacy at Illinois State is forever etched in the history books and the profound impact she has had on our program and countless student-athletes over the years cannot be understated.”

“Melinda has not only led our softball program with class and dignity over the past 37 years, but she has been a mentor to so many coaches, staff and administrators over the years helping them grow into the best versions of themselves,” he said. “She has dedicated her professional life to bettering this University and the game of softball, while being a beacon for equality for generations of female student-athletes. Melinda will certainly be missed by many in the sport, but her legacy will live on forever here at Illinois State.”

Added ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy: “In addition to her winning record, Coach Fischer has inspired generations of Redbird student-athletes to achieve greatness. I have been impressed and inspired by her stature as a leader, pioneer, and legend not only at Illinois State University, but in the larger realm of college sports.”

Tina Kramos will succeed Fischer as head coach. Kramos is beginning her 23rd season as member of the ISU softball staff. She’s been senior associate head coach since 2017.

“We are incredibly excited to have Tina lead our softball program into its next era,” Brennan said. “Tina has been an integral part of the program’s success over the past 20-plus seasons and will continue to hold up the high standards that have been set for Redbird softball. In her time on staff, she has recruited and mentored some of the best in the program’s history and we know that will only continue with her leading the way as head coach.”

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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