Longevity and success have become synonymous with Central Michigan softball and its iconic coach, Margo Jonker.
In her 39 seasons at CMU, Jonker has established herself among the most successful and respected coaches in the college game, first building and now sustaining a program that has consistently ranked among the best in the Mid-American Conference while also competing on a national level.
Jonker has compiled a sterling 1,246-780-6 record at CMU, leading the Chippewas to the NCAA Tournament 13 times, a record 10 MAC Tournament championships, 10 MAC regular-season titles – also a record -- and one berth each in the Women's College World Series and the AIAW National Championship.
Jonker entered the 2018 season as the sixth winningest active coach in NCAA Division I, and the 10th all-time. Jonker's teams have compiled 34 winning seasons, including seven of the last nine.
Jonker was named the MAC Coach of the Year for a record 10th time in 2017 after leading the Chippewas to the regular-season MAC championship and a 37-15 finish. She is the all-time leader in wins, winning percentage, and regular-season and tournament championships among league coaches.
Jonker has developed numerous outstanding individual talents, including three-time All-American Pam Stanley and two-time selection Beth Bull. In 2017, pitcher Rachael Knapp took her place as one of the Jonker's all-time greats, earning All-America Honorable Mention from Fastpitch News and becoming just the second Chippewa to be named the MAC Pitcher of the Year.
Knapp led a contingent of five Chippewas to earn All-MAC honors in 2017, while she and Allison Curtis were both named Second Team All-Region.
CMU has had three Academic All-Americans under Jonker -- second-team pick Jen Skuta in 2002, and third-team selections Jeanette Schrand (1991) and Nicole Weston (2000).
Jonker has coached 30 first-team all-region players, 87 All-MAC First Team selections, and 67 academic all-conference players.
Under Jonker, the Chippewas have earned seven MAC Player of the Year honors, three MAC Pitcher of the Year Awards, six MAC Freshman of the Year honors, and seven times under Jonker a CMU player has been named the MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Among the myriad highlights in Jonker’s near four-decade career in charge of the Chippewa program:
• On April 22, 2010, the Chippewas defeated Michigan State, 5-1, to give Jonker her 1,000th career victory, making her the 11th Division I coach at the time to reach that milestone.
• CMU honored Jonker during the 2008 season by renaming the Chippewas' facility Margo Jonker Stadium.
• Jonker’s 2004 team started its season by knocking off No. 5 Oklahoma, 3-2; and No. 4 Washington, 1-0. CMU went on to win the MAC regular-season title that year, and those two victories helped it earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
• In 2005, Jonker led her team to a 5-4 win over Michigan, which was ranked No. 1 at the time would eventually go on to win the national title.
• Jonker’s 2002 squad set a MAC record with a .958 winning percentage, finishing 23-1 in conference play. After dropping its opener, CMU reeled off 23 consecutive conference victories.
• Jonker’s 1987 team compiled an 11-1 league mark for a .917 win percentage, which is second in MAC history. The ’02 and ’87 Chippewas are the only one-loss teams in league history.
• In 1997, the Chippewas forced Michigan to a second championship game in the NCAA Regional in Ann Arbor before falling. Two seasons later, CMU began a stretch of four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, a program record.
• In 1987, Jonker led CMU to MAC and Mideast Regional crowns and a fifth-place finish at the College World Series. It was the highest finish for a Chippewa team since an AIAW fourth-place effort in 1982.
• Jonker was selected as the NCAA Mideast Region Coach of the Year in 1987 and Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year in 1994 and in 2000.
• In 1982, Jonker's third season, the Chippewas won a program-record 51 games and captured their first MAC title. The squad advanced to the AIAW National Championships in Oklahoma City, where CMU finished fourth with a 4-2 record. The 51 wins remains a MAC record.
• The 51 wins by Jonker’s 1982 squad remains the most ever by a MAC team. The 45 wins by her ’86 team is second all-time for a MAC school.
• The 26 league wins recorded by Jonker’s ’96 team ranks second all-time in the MAC.
• Jonker is a member of five halls of fame: National Fastpitch Coaches Association (inducted in 2003), Grand Valley State University (1990), Michigan Amateur Softball (2000), West Ottawa High School (2001) and Metro Detroit Amateur Softball Association (2014). She is one of just 38 college coaches to be enshrined in the NFCA Hall of Fame.
• Jonker served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic softball team that won the gold medal in the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia.
• She was also involved with USA Softball's top international teams for several years, and in 1998 served as an assistant coach for the American team that captured gold in the World Championships in Japan.
• In 1997, Jonker was an assistant for the Superball Tournament in Columbus, Georgia, and the Softball National Team Festival in Midland, Michigan.
A Holland, Mich. native, Jonker joined the CMU athletics department in 1979, and took the reins as the head coach of the softball program in 1980, succeeding Marion Russell, a graduate assistant who guided the team in its inaugural 1979 campaign.
When Jonker arrived at CMU, she served as an assistant volleyball coach in addition to her softball duties. She earned her master's in athletic administration from CMU in 1981.
Jonker earned her bachelor's degree in physical education from Grand Valley State in 1976 and was named the Lakers’ Female Athlete of the Year as a senior.
She began her coaching career at Grand Valley as the pitching coach from 1977-79, while also serving as the softball coach at West Ottawa High School in 1978-79, and as the volleyball coach at Hope College from 1976-78.