Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University Athletics Department has announced the departure of head softball coach Marie Foster, who has resigned to pursue another collegiate coaching opportunity. Her last official day at FSU will be on Aug. 28.
With her departure, Dawn Thompson, who has been a member of the Bulldog coaching staff for the last five years, will serve as the program's interim head coach starting on Aug. 29 until a permanent successor can be found. She previously guided the Bulldogs to a 31-24 overall record in an interim head coaching role during the 2012 campaign.
"Marie has made a tough decision to leave Ferris State and the timing makes it difficult with school starting next week. We wish her the best and thank her for her efforts at Ferris State," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger. "At the same time, we're blessed that Dawn is in a position to help move our softball program forward and we are extremely confident in Dawn's abilities to lead the program in this transition period. She knows our program and student-athletes well and will provide leadership and stability as we begin the fall."
Thompson will oversee the program during the transition period. Ferris State's annual Softball Golf Outing will be held as scheduled on Saturday, Aug. 24, at FSU's Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs report for the first day of classes on Aug. 26 and will then begin preparations for the fall season under Thompson's direction with their first practice on Sept. 3.
This fall, the Bulldogs are scheduled to play three doubleheaders against Muskegon Community College (Sept. 20), Lansing Community College (Sept. 25 or 30) and Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Oct. 4). Walk-on tryouts are slated to take place on Sept. 9.
"We are coming off a solid season last spring and I'm looking forward to working with both the returning players and the newcomers as they arrive back on campus," said Thompson. "The fall is a critical period in terms of development and due to my familiarity with our student-athletes, I believe I can help them prepare to succeed both on the field and in the classroom."
This past season, Foster led the Bulldogs to a 29-16 overall record in her lone campaign at the helm as the Bulldogs reached the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history. It also represented the 10th consecutive year in which the Bulldogs had won at least 24 games in a season. FSU finished as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) runner-up in regular-season play with a 20-6 league record.
Thompson is no stranger to the Bulldog program as she first joined the staff as a volunteer assistant coach in the fall of 2008 under former head coach Keri Becker. In her five seasons with the Bulldogs as an assistant coach or interim head coach, Thompson has helped Ferris State to a 145-89 overall record and five consecutive 20-plus win seasons. The Bulldogs reached the NCAA Division II Tournament and posted a 35-10 overall mark in her initial season during the 2009 campaign while narrowly missing the tournament in her interim stint.
Prior her arrival at Ferris State, Thompson served nine (2000-08) seasons as the head varsity softball coach at Big Rapids (Mich.) High School and directed the Cardinals to three conference championships and two district titles. Thompson was also the head coach of the BRHS' varsity girls basketball program from 2000-11 and was responsible for guiding the Cardinals to three league titles and three district crowns.
The Howard City, Mich., native was an All-Mid American Conference (MAC) Second-Team selection at third base in 1998 during her collegiate career at Central Michigan after earning all-conference honorable mention plaudits in 1997 under head coach Margo Jonker. A two-time (1997 and 1998) MAC All-Academic Team honoree, Thompson was a member of two (1995 and 1998) Mid-American Conference Championship Teams while playing for the Chippewas and was a four-year (1995-98) letterwinner.
Overall, Ferris State has made five trips to the NCAA Tournament since 2005. A strong nucleus is expected back for the Bulldogs this coming season as 10 squad members from last spring's national tournament team are eligible to return.