Karen Fitzpatrick, a former women's basketball, field hockey and lacrosse coach at Ball State, has been selected for induction into the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame. Fitzpatrick is one of six individuals selected for the MAC Hall of Fame and will be inducted May 17 at the MAC Honor's Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.
The six inductees are Fitzpatrick, Ben Curtis (Kent State, men's golf), Herb Deromedi (Central Michigan, football), Wayne Embry (Miami, men's basketball), Bob Nichols (Toledo, men's basketball) and Mike Schmidt (Ohio, baseball).
"It is only appropriate for our conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former student-athletes and coaches, specifically these six individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the MAC," says MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. "We are honored to welcome them to the MAC Hall of Fame."
The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987. The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated this May. This year's class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 58 individuals from seven classes.
"I am extremely proud that we are reinstating the MAC Hall of Fame, which was originally started by former MAC Commissioner Jim Lessig," Steinbrecher says. "Our Hall of Fame is a testament to the achievement of those that have competed in this great conference."
During Fitzpatrick's 21 year tenure as head field hockey coach at Ball State, she built the Cardinals into one of the premier programs in the country, accumulating a 285-130-11 mark for a 68 percent winning percentage. Her 285 victories placed her in the top five nationally among active Division I head coaches at the time of her retirement. Fitzpatrick was head coach from 1980 through 2000 and the Cardinals produced a .500 or better record in all but two seasons.
Upon her retirement, Fitzpatrick was the winningest coach in the 19-year history of field hockey in the MAC. She was an 11-time recipient of the MAC Coach of the Year accolades, and led Ball State to a remarkable 153-29 all-time mark vs. conference opponents for a .841 winning percentage. Under her guidance, Ball State teams captured an unprecedented 16 regular season MAC titles and 10 league tournament crowns, plus advanced to four NCAA Championships, including three quarterfinal appearances. The success of her program garnered the respect of national pollsters, placing Ball State in the national poll on a regular basis, including several times in the top 10.
The national exposure Ball State received was increased by the outstanding players Fitzpatrick brought into Ball State and developed. She tutored 18 players to All-America recognition, including five with first-team distinction. A league record 71 of her players claimed All-MAC First Team accolades-twice the number of any other conference school at that time. In addition, a Ball State player was named MAC Player of the Year six times over the nine-year history of the award at that point in time.
Fitzpatrick's players collected Academic All-America accolades six times, including five with first-team mention. The combination of outstanding success in both the athletic and academic areas positioned Ball State field hockey players among the top student-athletes in the country. After the 1999 season, Sally Northcroft was honored with the Honda Award for the sport of field hockey and was further lauded as the recipient of the NCAA Top VIII Award. Jen Brown was named the 1997-98 Wood Hayes National Division I Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, making her the top Division I female athlete in all sports. In addition, Janelle Tranquillo and Kerri Schoultz were the recipients of NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships in 1998 and 2000, respectively.
Fitzpatrick, who retired from Ball State following the 2000 season and resides in Atlanta, Ga., was hired by the Cardinals June 30, 1980, as both the head field hockey and head lacrosse coach at Ball State. After lacrosse was dropped from the university's intercollegiate sports structure in 1982, Fitzpatrick took on additional duties as head basketball coach for three seasons. She was inducted into the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.
Ball State's other inductees into the MAC Hall of Fame and their sport and induction year are as follows:
Maurice Harvey (Football) - 1992
Ken Kremer (Football) - 1991
Ray McCallum (Basketball) - 1988
John Pruis (President) - 1994
Shafer Suggs (Football) - 1989