March 22, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dr. JoAnne Graf and Florida State University softball.
You simply cannot think of one without thinking of the other, because for the past 27 years, this relationship has developed into the creation of one of the nation’s premier softball programs. And on April 2, 2005, Florida State University, the Tallahassee community, former and current players, and the FSU athletic family, will pay homage to a woman who planted the seeds of the program and became the first and only coach of softball at the University by dedicating the field in her honor.
“This is a tremendous honor,” said Graf, who was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) in the fall of 2003. “It’s not a credit to just me, but more for all our former players over the years that dedicated their time and efforts into making this program a success. My hopes are that this field will be remembered in the future for all the players that made their marks on this field and spent countless hours representing this university at the highest level. This field will forever be remembered and dedicated to all the people that touched the FSU softball program in some way.”
JoAnne Graf Field at the Seminole Softball Complex will officially be dedicated Saturday, April 2, during Florida State’s ACC series with Virginia Tech. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the 1:00 p.m. start (approximately 12:45 p.m.) to witness a piece of Seminole Athletic history.
“It is truly an honor to be on the team this year and to take part in an event of this magnitude,” said current senior shortstop, Tatiana George. “Coach Graf has paved the way for softball at FSU and if it wasn’t for her drive and determination, hundreds of Seminole softball players like me would have never been here. April 2nd will be an emotional and exciting day for so many of us. I am very thankful that all her hard work has been recognized.”
Simply put, the Hall of Fame coach can truly be called a Master of the Game. One of the most prolific coaches all-time in collegiate softball, she kicked own another barrier last year when she recorded her 1,000th NCAA win against Mercer. The victory was special because it stands a part from the two slow pitch national titles Graf won in her first five years at Florida State. She is only the third Division I coach to ever reach that milestone and just the fourth coach overall in NCAA history to record 1,000 victories. Reaching that milestone erased any doubts that Graf is the greatest DI coach in the history of the game. No other coach than Graf has more NFCA wins (slow pitch and fastpitch combined) than Graf’s 1,296, almost 100 more than her next competitor.
Graf is in her 27th season at the helm of the Florida State softball program in 2005. The legendary coach is fresh off leading her team to its 26th straight winning season, seventh Women’s College World Series appearance, and 17th NCAA Tournament berth in 2004. On top of having her second national player of the year and first Honda Award winner for softball last season, Graf had three players named National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association All-Americans for the second straight year. After the Tribe’s 62-12 mark in 2004 and 20-12 record in 2005, Graf now has a lifetime winning percentage of .762 and .753 in fastpitch competition alone.
In 13 years of Atlantic Coast Conference play, Graf has guided her team to 10 conference titles while no other ACC school has won more than one. She has been named the ACC Coach of the Year six times, including the last two seasons.
A 1975 graduate of Florida State, Graf returned to her alma mater after two years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she earned her master’s degree in physical education. Graf also worked in the athletic department as head coach for the university’s men’s and women’s swim teams and assistant softball coach. In 1992, she added “Dr.” to her named after completing her doctorate degree in athletic administration from FSU.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early to the free doubleheader on April 2 to receive a collectable JoAnne Graf Field commemorative pennant and posters. She’ll also be available for autographs and photos the conclusion of the doubleheader.
After the softball games, the Seminole community is encouraged to return to FSU that evening as long-time baseball coach Mike Martin will have the baseball field dedicated in his honor beginning a little before 7:00 p.m.
–FSU Sports Information–