After leading Messiah College to its first national championship, head coach Amy Weaver and her staff have been named the NFCA Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year, the association announced Thursday.
Weaver and assistants Alex Quigley, Sam McCloota and Jen Thuma led the Falcons to a 43-4 season, culminating in a perfect run through the NCAA tournament and the program's first national title. The eight postseason wins were part of a 23-game win streak to finish the season for Messiah, and the national championship win was also Weaver's 300th career victory.
Messiah was also named the East Region Coaching Staff of the Year. Other regional Coaching Staff of the Year winners were also announced. Honorees are as follows:
Salisbury University (40-7)
Head Coach: Margie Knight
Assistants: Tom Stitcher, Tee Dronenburg, Kyle Hall, Terri Sharpless
Salisbury reached the 40-win plateau for the first time since 2005, and the season included a 30-game win streak and the 13th consecutive and 14th overall Capital Athletic Conference championship. Knight led the Sea Gulls to the program's 14th NCAA tournament appearance and sixth trip to the NCAA Division III softball championship, where they finished tied for fifth.
Ohio Northern University (39-6)
Head Coach: Annette Shepherd
Assistants: Jeremy Shepherd, Jamie Snee
Ohio Northern set a school record for victories with 39 and advanced to the national championship tournament for the first time in school history. The NCAA first round appearance also marks the first time the Polar Bears have advanced to championship play since 1994. Shepherd, in her sixth season as head coach, led ONU to a tie for seventh place at the national championship after capturing the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.
Great Lakes Region
Illinois Wesleyan University (37-6)
Head Coach: Steve King
Assistant Coaches: Lyle Day, Rachel Shipley, Matthew Murray, Graham Arnold
In just his second season as head coach at Illinois Wesleyan, Steve King and his staff led the Titans to a second straight regional appearance. IWU captured the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin regular season title and narrowly missed out on its second national championship trip with two regional final losses to eventual national runner-up Coe.
Gustavus Adolphus College (42-8)
Head Coach: Jeff Annis
Assistant Coach: Mark Wiest
Gustavus Adolphus had its most successful season in school history, finishing third at its first national championship appearance. In his fourth season at Gustavus, Jeff Annis also led the Gusties to their first ever 40-win season after three straight 30-plus-win seasons.
New England Region
Tufts University (44-3)
Head Coach: Cheryl Milligan
Assistant Coaches: Naomi Greckol-Herlich, Jim Cardello, Payl Rahmeier, Lauren Ebstein
Tufts had arguably its best season in school history, as the Jumbos finished fourth in just their second national championship appearance and first since 2000. The 44 victories broke the previous single-season record by 13 wins, and a 35-game winning streak to open the season is the second-longest winning streak in Division III history. Cheryl Milligan and her staff led the Jumbos to their fifth straight NESCAC East regular season crown and the tournament title en route to several single season school records.
Cortland State University (44-9)
Head Coach: Julie Lenhart
Assistant Coaches: Tara Schanbacher, Brad Posner, Megan Cross
Cortland State made its second straight appearance at the national championship, finishing tied for seventh. The 44 victories breaks the previous school single-season record for victories by two. Julie Lenhart and her staff led the Red Dragons to the SUNYAC regular season title and their sixth appearance at the national championship in her 15th season.
West Region (tie)
Linfield College (39-6)
Head Coach: Jackson Vaughan
Assistant Coaches: Greg Herman, Ben Blosser, Shelly Vaughan, Jena Loop, Amanda Attleberger
Linfield narrowly missed out on its third national championship appearance in four seasons with a seventh-inning loss in the regional finals. The six losses were a single season low, while the overall mark of 39-6 set a new record or winning percentage. Jackson Vaughan and his staff also led the Wildcats to their sixth consecutive Northwest Conference title.
University of Texas, Tyler (39-10)
Head Coach: Michael Reed
Assistant Coaches: Keith Bell, Christy Shipley-Gipson, Coby Gipson
After recording a school-record 43 wins last season, Texas-Tyler again made history this season, winning a regional and making its first appearance at the national championship. Mike Reed and his staff led the Patriots to a tie for fifth place after capturing the school's first-ever American Southwest Conference title.