Canisius head softball coach Mike Rappl, the only head coach in the program’s 35-year history, announced today that he will retire from coaching, effective immediately. The senior-most member of the College’s athletic department staff, Rappl retires with a career record of 831-526-2, making him the winningest head coach in any sport in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference history.
“It has been a great run and I have so many great memories, almost too many to even try and count,” Rappl said. “There are very few professions in life that give you the opportunity to work with young people and travel all across the United States and the world, while being a part of a game. I would like to think that I helped people come to school here and I helped them reach their potential as student-athletes. Then to see them go on and reach their potential in the real world – that’s an amazing feeling. To think I was a small part of that growth process is a great honor. Doing this becomes a way of life. You work so hard with your head down, and then you look up and it is 35 years later. This has been very rewarding for me.”
Canisius Director of Athletics Bill Maher has announced that Kim Griffin, a member of Rappl’s coaching staff for the previous seven seasons, has been named the program’s interim head coach for the 2014-15 season. Maher said an announcement of a permanent successor to Rappl as the program’s head coach will be made in the near future.
“Our softball program is one of the premier programs in the MAAC because of the hard word and dedication of Mike Rappl,” Maher said. “It is hard to truly describe what Mike Rappl has meant to Canisius College, our athletic department and our softball program. Mike has been a pillar of success during his time as a coach and administrator here at the College, and a small part of that success is evident in the numerous academic and athletic honors his teams have received over the years. I speak for all my colleagues in the Canisius Department of Athletics when I say thank you to Mike for your incredibly successful career and congratulations on your retirement.”
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.