UNIVERSITY CENTER -- A pair of Saginaw Valley State University head coaches will be finishing their respective careers with the Cardinals this spring, as Men's and Women's Head Golf Coach Joe Vogl and Head Men's & Women's Swimming & Diving Head Coach Bruce Zimmerman have announced that they will be retiring at the end of the 2019-20 spring season.
"When you contemplate the amount of coaching experience that we will be losing with the retirements of Bruce and Joe, it's rather staggering," said SVSU Director of Athletics John Decker. "Add to that the fact that both of these men performed their work with the utmost integrity, dedication, and professionalism, we then can begin to understand how difficult the task will be to find the next generation of leaders for these two programs. Personally, I am very thankful that I have had the privilege to work with Joe and Bruce for the past few years and I will always admire them for the leadership they provided for our athletics department. I wish them both happiness and fulfillment during their retirement years."
Vogl has been a member of the Saginaw Valley staff for 41 years and is in his 26th season as the head coach of the golf programs. He has coached the men's squad in two different stints, leading the program from 1990-2008 and from 2008-current. The SVSU Women's Golf program began its first year in the 2016-17 campaign as well, with Vogl serving as the head coach of that program, now in its fourth season.
Coach Vogl has led the Cardinals to the NCAA Division II National Championships three different times, competing at the postseason event during the 1997, 1998 and 2014 seasons. The Cardinals claimed back-to-back GLIAC Championships under Vogl's direction as well, winning the league title in the 1996 and 1997 campaigns. The SVSU Men's Golf program has claimed 19 team titles in Vogl's 26 seasons and has finished runner-up in 36 different tournaments. The Women's Golf program has achieved quick success as well, winning three tournaments and finishing runner-up another pair of times.
Two players earned All-American honors under Coach Vogl, with Brian Eggleston (1998) and Dave Tokarsky (2000) earning that honor for the Cardinals. There have been 14 Academic All-Americans on the men's side and another nine on the women's side, with the men's squads being named Academic All-America as a team nine different times.
In regards to All-GLIAC honors, 36 Men's Golf student-athletes have been named all-conference and two Women's golf team members have earned that distinction as well. Adding to that, Vogl has helped lead 11 Men's golfers to all-region honors. He was named the GLIAC Men's Golf Coach of the Year three times as well.
Vogl competed as a Men's Golf student-athlete for Saginaw Valley from 1973-76 and was the first-ever Cardinal to record a hole-in-one in tournament play (1975). He is a member of the SVSU Athletics Hall of Fame, being inducted as an assistant coach on the 1984 team that finished national runner-up at the NAIA National Championships.
Coach Vogl spoke to the time he has spent as a member of the Saginaw Valley family...
"It has been an honor and privilege to have worked at SVSU with the various administrative positions I've held over my 41 years of employment. Academically, SVSU has been extremely good to me and my family. Me, with a BBA ('76) and MBA ('82), my wife Sue, with a Masters in Education and our twin sons and one daughter-in-law each receiving Bachelor degrees from here.
I also feel that I was lucky as an athlete to have played golf at SVSU. Lucky to have been able to coach golf as an assistant under Bob Becker and lucky to have been the Head Men's Coach for all these years. Then I got lucky again when the University added women's golf four years ago and I was asked to coach that program as a start-up. I'm proud to say we will have five young ladies graduating this year from that first recruiting class.
Through the years I've kept in touch with many of the golf alums and look forward to keeping those relationships and creating new relationships with the future alums of both programs. What's cool now is that I get to just be an alum of the Golf Program...just a plain 'ole Joe!"
Zimmerman, who was hired as the first-ever head coach of the Swimming & Diving programs, is currently in his sixth season at the helm. He has compiled 59 dual meet victories to-date for the Cardinals and has led the women's and men's teams to GLIAC finishes of fourth place in six-of-nine chances at the league's annual championship meet.
There have been 10 student-athletes who have qualified for the NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships 22 different times under Zimmerman's direction. The program had three student-athletes claim GLIAC championships in the 2017-18 season in Melanie Soenksen, Rebeca Martinez and Wilhelmina Francisco, with Fransicso being named the GLIAC Women's Diver of the Year as well. Eight swimmers were named All-American and SVSU Swim & Dive student-athletes earned 21 CSCAA Scholar All-American honors over the past four seasons.
Coach Zimmerman shared his thoughts on his career at SVSU as the program's head coach...
"It has been an honor and a privilege to have been the first ever Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Coach at Saginaw Valley State University for the past 7 years. Being a part of the SVSU Athletic department and working with a group of individuals in the department who have the same goals and high expectations for the program has been a great motivator for myself and has driven me to do the best job I could to develop a program that could be competitive at the conference and national levels.
Given the responsibility to start the first ever swimming & diving program in SVSU history was a daunting challenge that excited and energized me as I approached the twilight of my 43 year coaching career. Over the past 7 years we have seen tremendous growth in the program reaching a level of success no one expected to see in such a short period of time. I believe the swimmers and divers who have been a part of the program have built a strong foundation for the future and I am excited to see what a new coach can do to bring the program to new and greater heights.
As I contemplate what I will miss the most after I retire, it will be the daily interactions with the student-athletes and athletic department staff. I will take with me many great memories of the experience and will always think fondly of my time spent at Saginaw Valley State University."
National searches will be conducted for the coaching positions, beginning in February.
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