Big Rapids, Mich. - A new era will begin for Ferris State University softball as the Bulldogs have appointed West Michigan native Wally King the program's 11th head coach in an announcement made today (July 31).
A veteran head coach with a strong reputation and history of success, King brings more than 20 years of varied and championship-caliber softball playing, coaching and administrative experience to FSU, including more than six years at the NCAA Division I level. He will begin his duties at Ferris State on Aug. 5.
King will take over a Bulldog program coming off a disappointing 16-36 overall mark this past season and will welcome back 12 letterwinners along with an incoming recruiting class of six for the 2015-16 campaign. The program has also recently seen facility upgrades with the installation of new batting cages, bullpens, playing surface improvements and a new scoreboard at the FSU Softball Field this past spring.
"Wally is a proven teacher, coach and leader and we are very pleased to name him as our new softball coach at Ferris State," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger. "His success at the collegiate level along with his ability to instruct, develop and manage softball players at all levels was a determining factor for us. Coach King will bring a passion and coaching style that will definitely enhance our recruiting and have an immediate impact on the competitive level of our softball program."
Highly-regarded across the country for his skills as a hitting and infield coach, King also brings an established record of individual player and team coaching success, including conference, regional and national recognition along with NCAA Tournament participation and continuous overall program development.
"I am excited about this new adventure and I want to personally thank President David Eisler, Perk Weisenburger and the entire search committee for this tremendous opportunity at Ferris State," King said. "I am looking forward to getting started and working toward building this program into one of regional and national prominence."
Most recently, King has served since last August as the Diamonds Sports Training National Director of Coach & Player Development in Grand Rapids, where he has been a college coach liaison for player contact, overseen the training of athletes and handled all softball-related duties. In addition, he has also worked as a volunteer assistant coach with NCAA-I Furman University and served as an adjunct professor at Muskegon Community College teaching both weight training & health classes.
Before returning to West Michigan, King was the associate head softball coach at NCAA Division I member Syracuse University from 2008-13. During King's time on the Orange staff, he helped guide Syracuse to four-straight 30 win seasons and consecutive BIG EAST Championship bids. Syracuse made its deepest postseason run ever in 2012 as the Orange advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals and defeated its highest nationally-ranked opponent ever with a 1-0 victory against second-ranked Arizona State in the NCAA Tournament. SU finished the year listed among the nation's top 25-ranked teams for the first time.
The 2011 season was the most successful in school history as the squad compiled a 45-13 record, repeated as Big East Tournament Championship and earned its first-ever NCAA Tourney victory. For the program's success, the coaching staff claimed the 2011 NFCA Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year honor.
In 2010, King's tutelage as a hitting and infield coach helped the squad capture the program's first BIG EAST Championship and make the first NCAA Regional appearance in school history. It marked the first time that the fifth-seeded Orange advanced to the title game and SU became the lowest seed in tournament history to capture the conference crown. Syracuse set numerous program single-season records while ranking among the top five teams in the league in 13 offensive and 14 defensive categories.
Prior to joining the Syracuse staff, King served as the assistant coach at Trine University in Angola, Ind. While with the Thunder, King helped guide the squad to the most wins in school history (31) and its first national tournament appearance. The team set school records in runs (251), doubles (70), home runs (24), RBI (212) and had a league-best ERA.
Before his time at Trine, King served as a volunteer assistant coach and hitting instructor in 2006 at NCAA Division I Bowling Green State University.
King's background also includes time as a social worker and special education instructor at Northview High School in Grand Rapids, where served as the varsity softball head coach. In his two seasons at Northview, King's team led the state with 28 home runs, which was a 21 home run improvement over the previous season. While at Northview, King also served as a professional hitting and pitching instructor at the USA FastBall Elite Training Academy, where he stayed until 2008.
A National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) member, King began his coaching career on the collegiate level at Grand Rapids Community College as the assistant softball coach and head recruiter. During his three seasons with GRCC, King helped develop the program into a national title contender with back-to-back World Series appearances.
King also brings an extensive playing background with two of the world's top five teams in a fastpitch softball career that spanned from 1985-2003. Between 1998 and 2002, King was the starting centerfielder for the Midland Explorers, the fourth-ranked team in the world, and he spent 2003 with the third-ranked Waterloo Hallman Twins. He was a first-team All-American, as well as state and national tournament MVP with the Kamphuis Pipeline in 1997. In 1996, King helped lead the Midland Metros to the national championship.
A former prep standout at Forest Hills Central High School, King played collegiate baseball for Hope College from 1985-88 where he earned bachelor's degrees in both sociology and psychology. He later earned his master's degree in social work from Grand Valley State University in 1994. His wife, Sue, who is an elementary educator, and their four children reside in Hudsonville.
Ferris State has reached the NCAA Softball Tournament eight times in school history and had won 24 games in a season for 10-straight years prior to the past two seasons. Overall, the Bulldogs have made five trips to the NCAA Tourney since 2005.