Big Rapids, Mich. - A veteran coach with more than 15 years of experience in directing an intercollegiate softball program has been tabbed as Ferris State University's next head softball coach as FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger announced today (Nov. 19) the appointment of Sarah Rotta to lead the Bulldog program.
A Michigan native and former collegiate student-athlete at the University of Detroit, Rotta has served as a head coach at the collegiate level since 1998, including the last seven years at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Previously, she was also the head coach from 1998 to 2006 at Macomb Community College. Her first official day at the Bulldog helm will be
Rotta will take over for former head coach Marie Foster, who departed in August to become the associate head coach at NCAA Division I Western Michigan after leading the Bulldogs to a 29-16 overall record and an NCAA Tournament appearance last spring.
"I am pleased to announce that Sarah Rotta will become the new head softball coach at Ferris State," said Weisenburger. "When we began this search process we identified specific qualities that were imporant to us. We wanted someone who is a demonstrated teacher and coach of the game, someone with an understanding of college softball and a passion to build and maintain a winning program, and most importantly someone who will commit to this team and program and provide Ferris State with the championship stability that we want. We found that person in Coach Rotta."
While at Michigan-Dearborn, Rotta was responsible for the development of softball as a varsity sport at the collegiate level. She coached 10 first team All-Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) performers along with 19 honorable mention selections in addition to 24 academic all-conference awardees and six NAIA All-American Scholars.
"As a team, we're looking forward to Coach Rotta's leadership," said senior student-athlete and returning two-time All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) honoree Amy Dunleavy. "We wanted someone to come in who's passionate about Ferris State and the softball program. She's certainly displayed that to us and will bring a great drive and motivation to help us succeed."
"Sarah will bring a great deal of experience and passion for softball to Ferris State University," said Dawn Thompson, who has been a key member of the Bulldog coaching staff for the last five years and has served most recently as the program's interim head coach since Foster's departure. "She is excited to work with our student-athletes in their pursuit of excellence both on and off the field and I believe she'll prove to be an outstanding leader for Bulldog Softball."
During her tenture at UM-Dearborn, the Michigan native received the WHAC Champion of Character Coach Award in 2012 and registered her 300th career victory in April of 2011. Her team qualified for the conference tournament in the program's first year of competition and posted a third-place 17-11 conference finish in her second campaign.
"I'm very excited to become part of the Ferris State and Big Rapids community," said Rotta. "Everyone treated me so well during the interview process and I'm looking forward to being part of an outstanding organization. A great deal of credit goes to Dawn Thompson, who has been tremendous to talk with and a person who's been extremely committed to the program and growth of the student-athletes.
"During the process, I found a team really looking for a coach who can bring consistency and one that wants to win a championship so I couldn't be more happy being the choice to help make that happen," she added.
As a head coach at her previous stop, Rotta directed and oversaw all aspects of the softball program such as game strategy, recruiting, budget, travel and scheduling. She also coordinated fundraising activities, which was essential to the UM-Dearborn softball program.
In addition to serving as the head softball coach at UM-Dearborn, Rotta also was the academic coordinator for the school's athletics program. Among her key initiatives was designing and implementing the START (Successful Team Academic Round Tables) Program for academic support of student-athletes.
Rotta began her collegiate head coaching career guiding Macomb Community College where she built a highly-reputable and nationally-recognized program. She claimed Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) State Coach of the Year laurels twice and was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Year four times. She also received National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XII Coach of the Year honors in both 2001 and 2003 in addition to the Region IX "Real Sport" Award in 1999. Her team finished seventh in the country at the 2001 NJCAA National Tournament and won a regional title under her direction.
She also supervised a successful academic support program at Macomb CC while helping improve the athlete degree completion rate to three times the national average for JUCO student-athletes. Prior to her collegiate coaching career, Rotta served as a paramedic for 10 years for the Universal Macomb Ambulance in Sterling Heights.
As a collegiate student-athlete, Rotta was a member of the University of Detroit softball team from 1988 to 1990. She earned a liberal arts degree from Macomb CC where she also claimed team MVP accolades. She later earned a degree in business communication from Rochester College and is currently working towards a masters degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.
Overall, Ferris State has made five trips to the NCAA Tournament since 2005. Last spring, the Bulldogs reached the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history and it represented the 10th consecutive year in which FSU won at least 24 games in a season. The Bulldogs finished as the GLIAC runner-up in regular-season play with a 20-6 league record in 2013.