Mike Rappl enters his 35th season as the Golden Griffins’ head softball coach, making him the senior-most member of the Canisius College athletic department staff. In his time at the helm of the program, the seven-time MAAC Coach of the Year has compiled an overall record of 813-496-2 to go with a 322-112 career mark in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. Under Rappl’s direction, the Griffs have earned 13 MAAC regular season crowns, 12 MAAC Tournament championships and 11 trips to the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament, with the program's most recent national postseason appearance coming at the end of the 2009 season.
In November 2009, it was announced that Rappl would be first active head coach in Canisius College history to be inducted into the school's Sports Hall of Fame when the Class of 2009 was officially enshrined Jan. 24, 2010. Rappl is one of 24 active Division I head coaches to reach the 800-career win milestone, an honor he picked up March 15, 2013 when the Griffs defeated Pittsburgh by a score of 10-5 in Fairfax, Va. He is the first softball coach in the MAAC to reach the 800-career win plateau, and he has led his program to the MAAC Softball Championship Tournament a total of 21 times in the last 24 years, with the team advancing to the championship game 17 times.
The 2010 edition of the Canisius softball program earned a share of the MAAC regular season championship after the Blue and Gold went 34-19 overall and 13-3 in league play. The Griffs earned the No. 1 seed in the 2010 MAAC Softball Championships, which the program hosted in Buffalo, before falling to Iona in the championship game - the program's fourth-straight trip to the conference's championship round. Seven Griffs were named All-MAAC after the 2010 season, and Michelle Fridey left the program as an all-regional honoree for her play on the field and as an Academic All-American for her work in the classroom.
In 2009, the Griffs advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year after beating long-time rival Niagara 10-0 in the MAAC Championship game. On the national postseason stage, the Griffs played in the Columbus, Ohio Regional, where the team faced the host Ohio State Buckeyes and the Kentucy Wildcats. By claiming the 2009 MAAC championships, the Canisius softball program earned its 11th NCAA Tournament berth in the last 17 years, which stands as the most for any program at Canisius College.
The 2008 edition of the Canisius softball program set single-season school records with 39 overall wins and 15 regular season conference victories. At the Hofstra Regional in Hempstead, N.Y., Rappl helped lead the Blue and Gold to a 3-2 win over Long Island, the school’s fifth national postseason victory and first since 2000. Rappl holds the distinction of being the only softball coach in MAAC history to claim a win in the NCAA Tournament on his all-time record.
Rappl became the first softball coach in the history of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to reach the 700-career win and 600-career win milestone. He won his 700th career game March 21, 2009 when the Blue and Gold defeated Idaho State, and he picked up career win number 600 on March 3, 2006, when the Griffs beat Memphis 2-0. The 2006 softball team posted a 28-23 record in 2006 en route to the program’s 10th MAAC regular season title and 16th appearance in the MAAC Tournament.
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 813 career wins ranks him in the top-25 among active Division I softball coaches and his .618 winning percentage ranks in the top-30 among active Division I coaches.
In his time as head coach, Rappl's student-athletes have received numerous national, regional and league accolades as well. Since 1980, 11 players have earned national recognition for their play on the field and work in the classroom, 13 have received regional honors and 58 players have been honored as All-MAAC selections. Of those 58 all-league honorees, five have been named the MAAC’s Player of the Year, five have been named the conference’s Pitcher of the Year and two players have been recognized as the MAAC Rookie of the Year. Additionally, 12 Griffs have been recognized as the MAAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. After the 2011-12 academic year, former Griff Lizzy Gatto was honored as the MAAC's nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, and former player Katie Miranto was recognized as the 2007-08 MAAC Female Student-Athlete of the Year, making her the first Canisius student-athlete to receive the conference’s highest individual honor.
Since joining the MAAC, Canisius is the only team in conference history to come out of the loser’s bracket to claim the league’s title, having won three games on the final day of the tournament in 2002, 2004 and 2005. On the national stage, Canisius has played the No. 1 ranked team three times, meeting Arizona in Tuscon, Ariz., 1994, UCLA in Los Angeles in 2000 and Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2005.
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.
From 1986-93, Rappl coached the Canisius women’s basketball team to a 93-94 (.497) record and served as the World University Games Venue chair for women’s basketball in 1993. Additionally, the Buffalo native coached the Western Region softball team to gold medals at the 1997, 1998 and 2002 Empire State Games and silver medals in 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2003 with a bronze medal in 2001. He also served on the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association/USA Today Poll for the 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Rappl previously served as associate athletic director for facility operations at Canisius. He is an active clinician and softball speaker and served three years (1995-97) on the NCAA Northeast Region Softball Ranking Committee. 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 inducted into the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame. A native of Lancaster, N.Y., Rappl earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Canisius in 1977 and a master’s degree in 1980.