|College:||Cal State Fullerton '87|
|Position:||Head Coach (13th Season)|
Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki returns to the bench for her 13th season at the helm of the Titans' softball program in 2011-12, continuing to build upon a tradition that has made Fullerton one of the most prestigious programs in the nation.
Gromacki has devoted the past 17 seasons to the Titans' program after spending five years as an assistant under Hall of Fame Head Coach Judi Garman from 1995-99, helping Cal State Fullerton to a 184-129 (.588) overall record and a berth in the College World Series in 1995.
With Garman's retirement following the 1999 season, Gromacki stepped right in as head coach of her alma mater and the Titans never missed a beat.
Under her guidance, Gromacki's Titans have staked their claim to five Big West Conference championships, including four consecutive conference titles from 2000-03, bringing the program's total to eight league crowns overall - the most of any other school in the history of the conference.
After a two-year absence, Gromacki has guided Fullerton to postseason play in nine of the last 12 years, including a regional title in Columbus, Ohio, in 2007 for the program's first since 1995 and, in the process, becoming the first Big West school to advance to the NCAA Super Regional round since the format was adopted in 2005.
Gromacki's teams have finished in the top 20 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's poll five times, including top-10 finishes in 2002 (No. 9) and 2003 (No. 10). The Titans also finished ninth in the inaugural year of the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll in 2003.
Under her tutelage, numerous players have decorated mantlepieces as postseason awards have been numerous. Seven different players have been named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America team and 23 Titans have been named to the NFCA's All-West Region squads.
Among the Big West Conference honor rolls, five Titans have been named Player of the Year under Gromacki with another player earning Pitcher of the Year laurels. A total of 35 Titans have been named to the all-conference first team while 24 more have been named to the second team.
Already one of the winningest softball coaches in the history of the Big West, Gromacki enters her second decade at the helm of the Titans' program with a 404-271-1 (.598) overall record and a 177-75 (.702) mark in conference play. She stands as one of only four coaches in the history of the conference to win at least 400 games and she ranks fifth on the all-time list in career conference victories.
Gromacki's head coaching career got off to a great start in her rookie year in 2000, leading an inexperienced Titan squad to a 45-15 overall record and the school's first Big West title since 1993 with a 19-5 mark. For her efforts, Gromacki was named Big West Conference Coach of the Year.
With a little more experience under its belt in 2001, Cal State Fullerton won its second consecutive league crown thanks to a 19-2 record and finished the year 48-14 overall after a tough NCAA regional in Tucson, Ariz., where the Titans finished third.
The 2002 season was a banner year for Titan softball as Gromacki led Fullerton to a 53-13 overall record, posting the most victories in a single season since Gromacki helped the Titans to 59 wins as a player in 1987. That campaign featured a 32-game winning streak (the second-longest in the history of the program and the second-longest in the nation that season) and Gromacki's 100th career coaching victory. She became the fastest coach in school history to 100 wins (134 games), besting Garman (142 games) and former baseball coach Augie Garrido's previous record of 135 games.
Fullerton also clinched its third-straight conference title wih a 22-2 mark, posting the best single-season conference winning percentage in school history.
However, the "region of doom" awaited the Titans as Fullerton was awarded one of eight national No. 1 seeds and was pitted against five other squads in NCAA Regional play at Fresno, Calif. - a regional that featured five ranked teams and four in the top 15.
In 2003, featuring a roster chock-full of talented seniors, Gromacki piloted the Titans to a 41-15 overall record and a 20-1 mark in the Big West to clinch Fullerton's fourth consecutive league title. The Titans broke the school record for best Big West winning percentage and served as host of an NCAA Regional for the first time since 1996.
The 2004 season was supposed to be one of celebration as the program turned 25 years old, but the loss of seven seniors (including All-Americans Jenny Topping, Gina Oaks, and Jodie Cox) forced Gromacki and the Titans into rebuilding mode as Fullerton struggled to its first losing season in the history of the program (18-34 overall, 7-14 in the Big West).
Proving you can't keep a good program down, Gromacki brought the Titans back to the national stage in 2005, guiding the Titans to a 30-21 overall record and a 14-7 mark in Big West play to finish third.
Thanks to a very difficult strength of schedule, Fullerton was selected as one of two Big West programs to the 64-team NCAA regional field, seeded third at UCLA's Easton Stadium. The Titans emerged as the only undefeated team through the first two games, including a 2-1 victory in 11 grueling innings over the host Bruins. However, Fullerton's storybook run through the regional tournament ended as UCLA won both games on "Championship Sunday" to advance to the super regional round and eventually finish as the national runner-up.
The 2006 season saw the Titans regain their swagger and climb back atop the Big West pile with their eighth league title and 24th trip to the postseason. Gromacki, who was named the league's Coach of the Year for the second time in her career following the end of the regular season, helped the Titans to a 37-24 overall mark and a 14-4 record in Big West play.
Guided by the stellar pitching of junior Candice Baker (22-10 overall in the circle) and the powerful bat of Ashley Van Boxmeer (the Co-Big West Player of the Year after hitting .302 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI), Cal State Fullerton advanced to the NCAA Regionals in Fresno, Calif., before the Titans were eliminated by Stanford.
In 2007, Fullerton took another step forward toward the nation's elite, finishing 38-23 overall and 14-5 in the Big West Conference for second place. Placed into a four-team regional in Columbus, Ohio, as the No. 3 seed, the Titans rebounded to win four straight games after an opening night loss to the host Buckeyes to claim the regional title and move on to the super regional round against defending national champion Arizona.
The Wildcats, however, proved to be too tough for Fullerton as they swept the Titans in a best-of-three series by the scores of 11-6 and 2-1 to end Cal State Fullerton's season.
In 2008, the Titans suffered only their second losing season ever (27-28-1 overall, 11-10 in the Big West), but rode a difficult strength of schedule to their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Despite a young roster that featured 11 newcomers and 12 underclassmen, the 2009 season saw Fullerton get back on track and earn its fifth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Titans finished 30-21 overall and second in the Big West at 17-4, a game behind Cal Poly for the league championship. Cal State Fullerton's offense blossomed to the tune of a league-best 46 home runs, which ranks seventh all-time in school history, and saw six Titans named to the all-conference honor rolls, including first-team honorees Ari Cervantes, Torrie Anderson, and Lauren Lupinetti.
Travelling outside the state of California for the postseason for only the fourth time in school history, the Titans suffered a tough 3-2 loss to No. 20 LSU in the opener before launching a school-record five home runs against San Diego State to avoid elimination. 2008 National Champion and No. 9 Arizona State then ended Fullerton's season prematurely with a 7-0 victory.
Despite being picked third in the preseason, the 2010 campaign was a struggle as the Titans were limited to the fewest wins in school history at 14-39 overall. Torrie Anderson, Gabby Aragon, and Ari Cervantes were all named to the All-Big West Conference teams following outstanding seasons, but Fullerton's run of five consecutive postseason appearances. The Titans suffered a similar fate in 2011, suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in the history of the program following a 23-24 overall mark¬, but eight Titans were honored for their individual efforts on the field, including K.C. Craddick being named the league's inaugural Defensive Player of the Year.
Gromacki has been honored by her peers throughout her coaching career, serving as head coach on four Speedline/NFCA West Region Coaching Staff's of the Year in the last 10 seasons (2000, 2002-03, 2006). She has even taken her talents to the next level, serving as an assistant coach for the USA Blue Team in 2001 and the U.S. "Elite" National Team in 2002-04, competing in international tournaments and serving as the "sparring partner" for the U.S. National Team in preparation for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. In 2003, she helped lead the "Elite" Team to a gold medal at the Canada Cup with an 11-1 record and a roster that featured former Titans Gina Oaks and Jodie Cox. Cox was named MVP of the tournament, posting a 3-0 record without allowing an earned run in 19 innings and striking out 15.
Regarded as one of the best catchers in the nation, Gromacki helped lead the Titans to a combined 170-19-1 overall record and a 65-10-1 mark in the Big West as a player from 1985-87 while helping Fullerton claim the 1986 NCAA National Championship.
In 1995, Gromacki was invited to participate in the first-ever Olympic try-out camp and led the Redding Rebels to three ASA Women's Major Fastpitch National Championships. She was named an ASA All-American in 1995 - an honor she has earned eight times throughout her playing career. Gromacki was also selected as a member of the U.S. National Team that participated in the tournament to open the Olympic Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga., prior to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. In 1994, Gromacki was a member of several U.S. National Teams that claimed gold medals at the South Pacific Classic Tournament, the World Championships in Canada, and the Pam Am Qualifier in Guatemala. She was a participant in the Olympic Sports Festival in St. Louis as both a player and assistant coach.
From 1985-92, Gromacki participated in three Olympic Sports Festivals and was a member of two U.S. National Teams that took gold medals in international competition in China (1987) and Japan (1985). She also spent eight months playing on a travelling team in New Zealand from 1988-89.
Aside from playing, Gromacki has also been involved in numerous activities to promote the sport of softball. She was responsible for Junior Olympic try-outs and Pan Am Team practices held at Cal State Fullerton, has conducted numerous coaching clinics and speaking engagements around the world, and conducted a clinic in Italy, spending three days working with the Italian Junior Olympic National Team.
Gromacki is also a contributor to numerous athletic publications, including authoring a monthly column for Southern California Softball Magazine and writing articles for the NFCA newsletter.
In the summer of 2007, Gromacki was also inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame in her hometown of Antioch, Calif. The first female athlete chosen for induction, Gromacki was a three-time Most Valuable Player at Antioch HS and her jersey was officially retired at AHS in April, 2007.
Other members of the inaugural class included former Stanford baseball All-America catcher Ralph Holding, former Houston Oiler Ron Pritchard, swimming record holder Shaun Bogan, former Los Angeles Ram Duane Putnam, former U.S. Wrestling National Coach of the Year Steve Sanchez, and NFL Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti.
Gromacki currently resides in Huntington Beach. Her parents are Rick and Adeline.