Central College head coach George Wares, Simpson College head coach Henry Christowski and American International College head coach Judy Groff will be inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 while NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor Dee Abrahamson will receive the NFCA Service Award.
The announcement was made during the closing business meeting of the 2006 NFCA National Convention in Tucson, Ariz. The trio of coaches and Abrahamson will be honored during the 2007 NFCA National Convention, Nov. 28-Dec. 1, that will return to the Las Vegas Hilton, site of the 2005 convention.
Wares ranks as one of the winningest coaches in Division III softball, capturing over 750 victories in 22 seasons as the head coach at Central College. He ranks second in career victories and fourth in winning percentage, and his 20 NCAA tournament appearances and 79 post-season victories place him tops among the Division III coaching ranks.
He has captained the Dutch to four national titles, the most recent coming in 2003, and runner-up showings in 1986 and 2001. His squads have finished in the top five nationally 12 times and have won or shared nine Iowa Conference titles.
In addition to Central’s strong run in the Iowa Conference, Christowski and Simpson have had an equally impressive run in the conference, winning four conference titles from 1997-2000. Through his first 11 seasons as head coach at Simpson, Christowski has won over 360 games for an .802 winning percentage that ranks second-best among active Division III coaches, third all-time in Division III and eighth in all divisions of NCAA softball.
Christowski stands as the only coach in all divisions of NCAA softball history to win at least 200 games in his first five years as a head coach, and in 2004 he became the fastest Division III coach to attain the 300-win plateau. During his tenure he has guided the Storm to six NCAA Division III National Tournament appearances, hoisting the national championship in 1997 and 1999. His squads have also claimed four regional titles.
Prior to his stellar collegiate coaching career, Christowski won 879 games at the prep level, ninth most in Iowa high school history, over a 26-year span. During an eight-year sop at West Des Moines Dowling High School, he guided the program to its first state championship in 1992 and a runner-up finish the following year.
While Wares and Christowski have attained legendary status in the Division III ranks, Groff has established herself as one of the legends of Division II softball as she enters her 39th season coaching the American International College program she started in 1969.
Since that first season Groff has won 860 games, making her one of just five coaches to garner 850 career victories in Division II history. Her teams have amassed winning records 30 times, including 20 of the last 23 seasons, and they have advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament 14 times in the last 22 campaigns, making appearances in the final eight in 1996 and 1997.
Under Groff’s guidance, American International has won three Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championships to go along with eight Northeast-10 regular season crowns and three tournament championships.
Abrahamson became the NCAA’s first secretary-rules editor for softball in 1996, and it is a position she still currently holds following an 18-year coaching career at Lincoln Trail College and Northern Illinois University in which she won nearly 500 games and led NIU to a Women’s College World Series appearance. Abrahamson serves as the NCAA’s secretary rules editor in addition to her duties as Associate Athletics Director for Personnel/Facilities and Game Management at Northern Illinois.
In her current position as the secretary-rules editor for softball, Abrahamson serves as national interpreter of the softball rulebook, which she helped author. In addition to her rulings on the game, she also represents the NCAA on the ASA Equipment Standards Committee. Serving as a liaison to bat and ball manufacturers, Abrahamson has been the driving force behind implementing the NCAA bat standards and equipment certification programs that strive for increased safety in the sport.