June 25, 2012

Michigan Native Foster To Lead Softball Program

Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University has tabbed Michigan native Marie Foster as its next head softball coach, according to an announcement made today (June 25) by FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger.  She will officially begin her duties on Tuesday (June 26).

Foster, who played collegiately at NCAA Division I Western Michigan, has spent the past year as a private instructor and camp director in Lansing following four years as the head softball coach at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D.

In 2007, Foster took over a struggling Dakota Wesleyan softball program and built a competitive team through player development and strong recruiting along with other attributes.  When Foster's husband Jason took a new job in Michigan, she left DWU to focus on college coaching opportunities closer to home.  The opportunity at Ferris State matched her career goals.

"We were looking for someone who not only possessed head coaching experience, but also had proven abilities in assessing talent, who knew the state of Michigan and could utilize our Great Lakes Scholarship program at Ferris State," said Weisenburger. "We wanted someone with a demonstrated ability to connect with and develop young players and we feel this is a real strength of Marie's."  

"We could not be more pleased that she accepted our offer to become the next softball coach at Ferris State, continuing what Keri Becker and Dawn Thompson have established and accomplished before her," he added.

During her stint at Dakota Wesleyan, Foster's teams set numerous school records.  Additionally, she coached 16 players to All-Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) accolades and her squad received the institution's NAIA Champions of Character Award in 2010.

Foster's final team at DWU in 2011 set or tied school records in nine categories including runs scored and team batting average among others.  She has extensive nationwide recruiting experience and was responsible for doubling the program's operating budget with fundraising efforts.

"I'm thrilled to be coming to Ferris State and really felt like it was a great fit," Foster said.  "I've always wanted to coach at a school back in Michigan and that's a big reason why I left Dakota Wesleyan.  This is the exact type of position I was looking for and I think I'll be able to step in quickly and it is exciting."

Besides her work as the head softball coach at Dakota Wesleyan, Foster also maintained the position of Student Success Supervisor for the university while also developing and organizing a yearly community service project that included more than 150 volunteers.  Her tenure as head coach also including the responsibility of planning and implementing player development camps along with coaching clinics.

"We placed a premium on finding someone who had experience in managing a comprehensive program that included fundraising, scholarship & roster management, alumni relations and the day to day interactions with student-athletes that is such an important part of what coaches do," Weisenburger said. "The fact that Marie also played softball at the Division 1 level and has been dedicated to the sport for the past 10 years makes her a very good fit for us."

A member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), Foster served as the assistant softball coach at highly-regarded Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge for two seasons prior to taking over at DWU.  While at Iowa Central, she held the position of recruiting coordinator along with being the school's director of intramurals.  She helped the squad posted a 52-13 overall record and win a league championship in 2007.

Foster helped Iowa Central to a number five national ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll and coached one All-American along with eight all-region honorees.  She also was an instructor at the school and developed intramural activities for more than 5,500 students on campus.

A 2003 graduate of Western Michigan, Foster began her coaching career as an assistant on the prep level at Lansing Everett High School in 2003-04.  She then served as the assistant coach at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in 2004 and 2005 before working as a softball intern at her alma mater, Western Michigan, in 2006.  While at WMU, she was responsible for pregame event management, video evaluations, alumni relations and more.

Foster also spent time as a legislative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing for two years before serving as a graduate assistant instructor in the health, physical education and recreation department at Western Michigan from 2004-06.

During her playing career at Western Michigan, Foster was a two-time team Coaches Award recipient and earned Mid-American Conference (MAC) All-Tournament Team accolades in 2003 as the Broncos captured the tournament championship.  She began her collegiate career at Lansing Community College where seh claimed all-region kudos after leading the team to a second-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament in 2000.

In addition to earning a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan in business/marketing, Foster also received her master's degree from WMU in sport management.  She has also attended the National Fastpitch Coaches College directed by the NFCA where she's had the opportunity to study the advanced analysis of hitting, pitching and short-game skills along with coaching dynamics and team practice sessions.

Foster will take over a Bulldog program that posted a 31-24 overall record during the 2012 campaign. FSU won 15 of its final 21 contests en route to reaching the championship round of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament and narrowly missing an NCAA Division II National Tournament bid.

"This program has an outstanding tradition and the transition will be a lot easier with an established program," said Foster.  "I'm excited to get started and look forward to continuing to build on the success."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT MARIE FOSTER:

"I'm real excited for Marie and I know she's eager to go to work.  She's a young and well-organized coach who loves the game and truly shows that passion.  I know she'll work hard and do a tremendous job just as she's done both as a player and coach over the years.  It's exciting to have someone like her on your team."
- Kathy Leitke, Head Coach, Western Michigan

"Marie will do an outstanding job at Ferris State.  It was always tough to recruit in South Dakota since we do not have high school girls softball, but she was able to bring in talented players who all stayed in school.  She did many important things for our program beyond softball and I believe she'll do a great job."
- Curt Hart, Athletic Director, Dakota Wesleyan

"We were looking for someone who not only possessed head coaching experience, but also had proven abilities in assessing talent, who knew the state of Michigan and could utilize our Great Lakes Scholarship program at Ferris State.  We wanted someone with a demonstrated ability to connect with and develop young players and we feel this is a real strength of Marie's."
- Perk Weisenburger, Athletics Director, Ferris State University

"Ferris State has had an outstanding softball program in the past and we look forward to Marie Foster continuing to build on that success. Her connections within the state of Michigan and previous experience as a head coach will make the Bulldogs an exciting team to watch in the years ahead."
- Jeff Ligney, Associate Commissioner for Media Relations, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

"Marie is a young and hungry coach who will do an excellent job.  I know she'll run a classy program and do it the right way.  Her teams will play an agressive style and she'll be a great hire for Ferris State."
- Rick Sandquist, Athletic Director & Former Head Softball Coach, Iowa Central CC

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