Nov. 15, 2002
Tallahassee, FL – Homecoming weekend will be a special one for the Florida State softball program. Beginning today 25 years worth of former players will be heading to Tallahassee to celebrate head coach JoAnne Graf’s 25th anniversary as the Seminoles’ head coach. Players from the 1981 and 1982 AIAW National Championship teams will join with fastpitch players from the last 19 years for a weekend-long celebration of FSU softball.
“This is going to be a lot of fun. It is a great chance for former teammates to see one another again in a really fun environment,” said Graf. “Some of these players haven’t seen one another in 20 years so and they are such a huge part of the success we have had here at Florida State.”
The celebration kicks-off tonight with a reception at the FSU Varsity Club and will continue Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. with the much-anticipated alumna game. Seminole players from 15 NCAA Tournament teams and two National Championship squads will get a chance to dust off their mitts and play a game on the state-of-the-art Seminole Softball Complex diamond. After the game, the celebration continues with a tailgate party leading up to the FSU-UNC football game where the teams will be honored on the field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Sunday the party gets started again at the Champions Beyond the Game brunch before moving over to the Leon County Civic Center for the Florida State basketball exhibition game versus Premier Players. The weekend will wrap-up Sunday with a concluding reception hosted by Varsity Club Director Sue Hall and former Seminole volleyball coach Dr. Cecile Reynaud.
“There is so much planned for this weekend, I don’t think any of us will have a minute to rest,” said Graf. “There are some great events but I think everyone is probably looking forward to the game Saturday morning more than anything.”
The alumna game will feature some of the best players to ever wear a Seminole uniform including Tallahassee resident Julie Larsen-Baker. The FSU Athletic Hall of Famer will lead a parade of greats on to the field Sunday morning.
“I am looking forward to seeing old teammates I haven’t seen in years,” said Larsen-Baker. “I have really kept up with some but there are a few I haven’t seen since our playing days. I am fortunate enough to be in town and I get to see coach Graf often but there are a lot of former players who don’t have that opportunity and are really excited to get a chance to see her.
Despite the celebration of all the great players and teams and the game, the gathering is focused on honoring the second-longest tenured coach currently at FSU. Graf’s teams have been to five Women’s College World Series, been to the NCAA Tournament 14 times in the last 16 years and finished 3rd in the nation in 1990 & 2002. Under Graf’s direction FSU has won the ACC Title 8 of 11 years and she is a seven-time ACC Coach of the Year. She is the all-time wins leader in NFCA history and in the Top 10 of every NCAA All-Time coaching records list. She has also won two AIAW National Titles in 1981 & 1982.
“I think everybody feels they are a big part of coach Graf’s success but her career is just remarkable,” said Larsen-Baker. “It is a great honor to be there to celebrate her wonderful career.”