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Muhlenberg College

Monday, May 5, 2008

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gibbs retires as mule softball coach

Ruth Gibbs has retired as head softball coach at Muhlenberg College after 12 years at the helm.

Gibbs is the all-time winningest coach in the team’s history with a record of 205-229 in her 12 seasons. She restored the program to the prominence it enjoyed in the early 1990s, winning three Centennial Conference championships (2000, 2001 and 2003) in a four-year span. Muhlenberg earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament each of those seasons.

With Gibbs Ruth Gibbs as head coach, Muhlenberg annually played a challenging schedule that included nationally ranked opponents early in the season. Although the Mules lost many of those games, they did pull off several upsets, including one of eventual national champion Simpson in 1999 and one of preseason No. 2 Wartburg in 2008. And the strategy ultimately paid off, as the team was better prepared for conference games. Her last championship team started off 1-12 before winning the CC playoffs and adding two more victories in the NCAAs.

Gibbs coached 49 all-conference players, eight all-region selections, three conference players of the year and one NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipient.

Off the field, Gibbs’ teams were extremely active in community service. During the 2005-06 academic year, she spearheaded a campus-wide fundraising effort when one of her players was seriously injured in a car accident. In January 2007, the Muhlenberg softball team was selected as a recipient of a Jostens/NADIIIAA Community Service Award for an array of projects that included raising money for the fight against breast cancer, buying Christmas presents for needy families and conducting a clinic for inner-city girls.

Muhlenberg Director of Athletics Sam Beidleman expressed mixed emotions in accepting Gibbs’ retirement. “On one hand I am happy for her and wish her the long and enjoyable retirement she has earned. On the other I am saddened by how much we will all miss the many contributions she has made to the department, the college, and the young people we serve over the last 12 years, both on and off the field.”

Muhlenberg will begin the search for her successor shortly.

Gibbs first made her mark as field hockey, basketball and softball coach at Phillipsburg (N.J.) High School. After starting the softball program in 1970, she coached it to an exceptional record of 119-25 (.826) over the next 10 years, winning five league championships, four sectional titles and three state crowns. In 2000, she was No. 56 on the Express-Times “Top 100 Sports People of the Century.”

Gibbs was an assistant coach at Rutgers University, responsible primarily for hitting and infield, from 1979-94, during which time the Lady Knights made three Division I national tournament appearances. She has 17 years of experience as an amateur softball player and has directed and lectured at numerous softball clinics nationally and internationally.

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