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Former Canisius softball coach Mike Rappl, the winningest coach of any sport in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference history, is one of 12 members of the 2015 Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame induction class, which was announced at a press event Wednesday at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center.
Rappl announced his retirement as the Canisius softball coach July 28, 2014, and at the time of his retirement, he held a career coaching record of 831-562-2 in 35 seasons leading the Golden Griffins.
A seven-time MAAC Coach of the Year honoree, Rappl led the Golden Griffins to 13 MAAC regular-season championships, 12 MAAC Tournament crowns and 11 NCAA Division I Softball Tournaments, most recently in 2009. One of two MAAC softball coaches to ever win an NCAA Tournament game, Rappl racked up a career record of 330-124 in league play and he saw 61 of his student-athletes earn All-MAAC accolades. Under Rappl’s direction, the Griffs recorded 14 straight 20-win seasons from 1989-2002, eight 30-win seasons and 22 consecutive winning campaigns from 1981-2002. Rappl’s 831 career wins rank him in the top-25 among active Division I softball coaches and he ranks among the top-60 all-time in the NCAA record book.
In addition to his term as the school’s head softball coach, the 1977 graduate of Canisius handled a number of other responsibilities within the Canisius athletic department over the years. From 1986-93, Rappl won 93 games as the school’s head women’s basketball coach and he also served as the College’s Director of Athletic Facilities. In 1994, the veteran skipper coached Canisius to an overall mark of 36-8 record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Canisius lost to top-ranked Arizona in the first game before coming back to drop Rutgers in an elimination contest. The Blue and Gold saw their season come to an end after falling to Texas A&M. Rappl’s 1993 squad set a then-NCAA record by winning 35-straight games, en route to a 36-3 record and the best single-season winning percentage (.923) in school history.
He was inducted into the Canisius Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, making him the first active head coach to be enshrined in the school’s Hall of Fame. A total of 15 of his former softball players have also been voted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame, along with the 1994 team, which was enshrined with the Class of 2013.
A native of Lancaster, N.Y., Rappl earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Canisius in 1977 and his master’s degree in 1980. In the summer of 2005, he was honored by his high school alma mater, as he was inducted into the St. Mary’s High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and in November 2007, he was voted into the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame.
The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Rappl is joined in the induction class by Al Bemiller (former Buffalo Bills center), Art Clark (WNY auto racing legend), Liz Johnson (ground-breaking bowling champion), Aaron Miller (NHL and Olympic defenseman), Keith Robinson (basketball star at Grover Cleveland High School, who later went on to play at the University of Notre Dame under current Canisius head men’s basketball coach Jim Baron when Baron was an assistant for the Fighting Irish), Robert L. Smith (renowned Buffalo sports photographer) and John Tavares (Buffalo Bandits and NLL all-time leading scorer).
Additionally, George Daddario (Buffalo Bisons/Buffalo Braves public relations director), David Koch (New Era Cap Company executive), Jim Konstanty (National League MVP pitcher) and Larry Wilson (Buffalo Hockey Bisons all-time leading scorer) will be inducted posthumously as part of the Pride of Western New York ballot.