Courtesy of Eastern Michigan Athletic Communications
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – Eastern Michigan University Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke announced Monday, July 29, that former EMU assistant coach Melissa "Skeeter" Gentile has been selected to lead the softball program. Her first official day at EMU will be Aug. 19, 2013.
Gentile (pronounced gin-TIL-ee) brings five years of NCAA Division I coaching experience with one year as a head coach at Jacksonville University and four years as an assistant coach at Central Michigan University and EMU. Most recently, she has spent the past seven years as the owner/director of Powerline Softball in Clearwater, Fla. In total, she has tutored 28 NCAA All-Conference, 18 All-Region and numerous high school All-American selections.
"We are thrilled to have someone with Melissa's playing, coaching and teaching experience lead our softball program," Lyke said. "Not only is she a highly motivated teacher and student of the game, she is an exceptional person. She will be a tremendous representative for our Department of Athletics and University. I appreciate the search committee's efforts, and we are extremely excited about the future of EMU Softball under her guidance."
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to EMU softball and to guide this program," said Gentile. "With the support of University President, Dr. Susan Martin, and the leadership of Athletic Director, Heather Lyke, the University and in particular the athletic department are entering an exciting time. I am eager to be a part of this new direction and to impact the lives of our student-athletes."
As the director of Powerline Softball, Gentile mentored athletes that have gone on to play at more than 30 collegiate softball programs. She was also a featured speaker at numerous coaching and player camps around the country speaking to groups as large as 600.
Prior to opening her own company, Gentile led the Dolphins to a 22-37 record in 2006 as the team's head coach. Despite narrowly missing the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, Janine Palumbo earned second team All-Conference honors, while Beth Glasscock made the All-Freshman team under her guidance.
Gentile, who also served as recruiting coordinator at Eastern Michigan, helped lead the Eagles to their first MAC Tournament appearance since 1999 after posting an 11-12 conference record in 2004. The Eagles also excelled in the classroom by earning National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Team GPA honors after ranking first in the nation with a 3.552 GPA. In her first season, she improved the Eagles' batting average from last in the conference (.199) to sixth overall (.241) and had two players (Deanna Wisnieski and Nikki Denman) rank among conference leaders in every offensive category.
Prior to coaching at Eastern Michigan, she spent one year as the Director of Softball Operations for the Michigan Sports Academy.
Gentile began her coaching career as an assistant coach at Central Michigan University from 2000-02, where she served as the recruiting coordinator, camp director while also handling fundraising. In three years with the Chippewas, she helped lead the squad to a pair of MAC regular season and tournament championships as well as two NCAA regional appearances. Central Michigan also had 12 All-MAC selections, and five players earned NFCA All-Great Lakes Regional honors.
In her playing career, Gentile was a four-year letterwinner for the University of Michigan and finished her tenure as the career (28) and single-season (13) home run record holder, which was held until 2004. A co-captain in 2000, she earned All-Big Ten, All-Region and All-America honors in 1998 and was the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year in 1997.
Gentile participated in two Women's College World Series at Michigan, placing fifth in both 1997 and 1998 and was named to the Women's College World Series All-Tournament Team in 1997. Along with the Big Ten Freshmen of the Year honor, Gentile earned second-team All-Big Ten accolades in 1997 as well as first-team All-Big Ten and All-Region accolades as a sophomore.
Gentile also went on to play with the USA Women's National Team from 1996-2000 and was a member of the USA Pan-American Team in 1997 before graduating from Michigan in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She continued her playing career in the Women's Professional Softball League (now the National Pro Fastpitch League) after being drafted by the Akron Racers in 2000. She also eared her master's in athletic administration from Central Michigan in 2005.
A native of O'Fallon, Mo., the 35-year old Gentile played softball at Wentzville High School.