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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The NFCA and its Board of Directors have decided to honor Melinda Fischer’s hard work and dedication to the Association and the sport of softball by naming the Distinguished Service Award after the longtime Illinois State head coach. The Melinda Fischer Distinguished Service Award encompasses all the qualities that Fischer has shown throughout her years of commitment and service to the NFCA.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have the Distinguished Service Award named after me,” said Fischer. “This was totally unexpected… a WOW factor! I’m a big believer in giving back and helping with the Convention is one way which I could help the NFCA and the sport I love.”

Fischer, the first recipient of this award in 2002, has devoted decades of service to the NFCA. With regards to her 25 years of volunteering at the NFCA Convention, Fischer’s emphasis has been onsite schedule organization and planning, along with the oversight of food and beverage. She is always one step ahead. Her hard work and expertise in those areas are keys to the event’s success.

"Melinda is so deserving of this honor,” said NFCA Executive Director Carol Bruggeman. “She has dedicated decades of service to the NFCA in a variety of roles.  Most notably, Melinda has worked tirelessly in planning, organizing, and executing our annual Convention. Her expertise and attention to detail have helped the Convention thrive over the years. Melinda is selfless and serves with a giving heart, expecting nothing in return. There is no one more deserving of having her name permanently etched into the NFCA Distinguished Service Award."

The NFCA Hall of Famer has served in several capacities with the NFCA, including First Vice President (1993-97), chair of the Division I All-America Committee and director of the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic. Fischer has served multiple times on the All-America Committee and returns to the post of Mideast Region representative for the 2019 season.

“I have worked with two amazing Executive Directors - Lacy Lee Baker and Carol Bruggeman - who along with their tremendous staffs have dedicated their efforts to putting forth the best Conventions every year,” Fischer stated. “They are tireless workers from whom I’ve learned so much, which makes me even more grateful and appreciative of their efforts. It has been a fun 25 years of meeting new people and witnessing the growth of our Association.  Fond memories of the past and exciting dreams of the future.  Thank you. This is truly an amazing honor!”

On the field, Fischer is entering her 34th season at the helm of the Redbirds. She is just one of 22 NCAA Division I head coaches to have won 1,000 games with at least 10 years of Division I head coaching experience. To top that, the winningest coach in Illinois State Athletics history is only one of nine NCAA Division I head coaches to win 1,000 contests at one institution. Fischer's 1,074 career victories, spread out among 35 previous seasons as a collegiate head coach (at both Eastern Illinois [1979-80] and Illinois State [1986-present]), rank her as the 16th-winningest coach in NCAA Division I softball history and the eighth-winningest active head coach.

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