The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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40 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2022 "The core tenets of Michigan softball have been that only 21 women in the world wear the maize and blue and walk on that softball field each year. That ev- ery decision you make and every deci- sion I make is, 'How does it affect your team?' Our job is ultimately to leave this program and this world better than you found it. "That culture that has been created and sustained since 1978 has been built by every woman who's walked on the field. I will always consider that our greatest achievement." Hutchins has long been a champion of women's sports, pointing out the dis- parities between the men and women and pushing for equality. During her days as a basketball player at Michigan State, even, she organized the filing of a lawsuit against the Spar- tans' violations of Title IX. When the news of her retirement hit, the softball community celebrated her storied career. "The outpouring of love of our com- munity is what makes being a softball coach, I think, one of the greatest pro- fessions in the world," Hutchins noted. "We are a tight-knit group. As I've told them all, I'm not going far. I have a lot of passion, and I leave here with my passion intact. My passions are just go- ing to be redirected a bit." Hutchins won't have an office at the facility any longer, and she'll give new head coach Bonnie Tholl the space she needs to run her own program. But she will be available for input — and she can't wait to watch the Wolverines at Alumni Field from a different seat. "The one thing I look forward to do- ing is watching games at Alumni Field, from wherever I choose to sit; I haven't decided yet," Hutchins said. "The one thing everybody wants to do after the game is, why'd you do that? So, I'm looking forward to the next chapter for Bonnie, for Team 46, for Michigan soft- ball and for me." ❏ Hutchins "The only way that I've ever made any decisions, I have to go back to my simple core value, is what is best for this program. And that's how I'll leave it." Michigan athletics director Warde Manuel didn't have to look far to find his next head coach for softball. Bon- nie Tholl, who's been an assistant coach for 29 years, including the last 20 as associate head coach, has been groomed for the position over the years. She turned down head-coaching in- terest from other institutions so that she was the pick when the day finally came for Carol Hutchins to hang it up. "It's been a discussion for probably a dozen years," Tholl, also the program's recruiting coordinator, said of becom- ing U-M's head coach. "I never knew when the moment would occur, I only knew that I had a great mentor who taught me so many things and was going to be at my side even beyond the years that she was coaching in the third-base box." "When Bonnie stepped onto cam- pus as a freshman in 1988, I knew she knew she was going to be the next head coach, and she's been after my job for a long time," a smiling Hutchins said of U-M's first head coach to have played in the program. "But I don't have my job, I don't have my career, without Bonnie. "She's going to be an amazing head coach. I've been watching her flourish, and she's going to do a great job." Tholl won't stray far from the values of the Michigan program, but she will add her own twist. "The system is probably going to be somewhat different, but I can tell you the values won't change much," Hutchins said. "There are going to be some things that are similar — the pillars of the program, that's the solid foundation that we'll work from — but there are going to be differences, and different ideas in how we engage our student athletes," Tholl added. "Placing some of the ownership back on the student athletes, so that they feel this is not about just what I can get from this Michigan experience, but what can I give to this Michigan experience." U-M's fourth head coach will always be compared with Hutchins — and she likely knows it — but she won't try to be her former boss. "I've had a front seat to all of it for many years," Tholl said. "I've seen the grace that she's handled her celebrity with. But I'm not here to fill the shoes of Carol Hutchins, I'm here to be a steward of the program. "Back in the mid-'80s when Hutch stepped on campus, she had no idea of the legacy that she would create. I think that she just remained focused on building her student athletes and grow- ing kids up for a living — and that will continue to be my focus as a leader. I'm not here to match the legacy of Carol Hutchins — I'm here to build the legacy of Michigan softball." The goals remain the same, though, and the achievements that U-M collected under Hutchins are the same ones Tholl and Co. will strive to match. Chief among them is reaching the College World Series, a place Tholl has been 12 times by Hutchins' side. "Oklahoma City is not just the destination for the College World Series, it will be a mindset in our program," Tholl ex- plained. "That mindset will permeate every inch of how we behave, how we communicate and what we do on a daily basis." — Clayton Sayfie Bonnie Tholl Tabbed As Fourth Michigan Softball Coach Tholl, who's been a Michigan assistant for 29 years, including the last 20 as associate head coach, is more than ready to lead the Wolverines' softball program into the future. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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