Saluki Hall of Fame coach Kay Brechtelsbauer passes away

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The Southern Illinois University softball program lost one of its all-time greats, as SIU Hall of Fame Dr. Kay Brechtelsbauer passed away Sunday morning.

Brechtelsbauer served as SIU’s head softball coach for 32 years from 1968-99, compiling a record of 633-438-2. She served more years as a head coach than any woman in SIU history. She became just the 25th coach at any college to win 600 career games and her teams posted winning records in 27 of her 32 seasons as head coach. She had 18 20-win and eight 30-win seasons and her teams made five Women’s College World Series appearances, including the 1978 team that won the Illinois AIAW State and midwest regional crowns and finished seventh at the Women’s College World Series. 

Her 1991 team went 42-7 and won SIU’s first conference tournament title. That team had a 23-game winning streak, set 25 school records and went a perfect 14-0 in Gateway Conference play. Brechtelsbauer, meanwhile, took home Gateway Conference Coach of the Year honors. She was inducted into the SIU Hall of Fame in 1994 and her 633 career wins are still the fifth-most in Missouri Valley Conference history. 

Brechtelsbauer graduated from Central Michigan University in 1965 before coming to SIU where she earned two postgraduate degrees. She earned her master’s degree in 1966 and her doctorate in educational psychology in 1980. Brechtelsbauer made academics a focal point for her players, as they earned 12 GTE Academic All-Americans from 1987-99, the most of any Saluki sport. 

The visitation and funeral will be on September 13, 2022 at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Carbondale. The visitation begins at 1 p.m., followed by the funeral at 3 p.m.

Statement from Saluki Hall of Famer Kerri Blaylock on the passing of Dr. Kay Brechtelsbauer:
“Coach Brechtelsbauer was a trailblazer in the sport of softball.  She had such an unbelievable impact on me and so many student athletes in her 32 years at SIU as the Head Softball Coach.  She thrived in a time of low budgets, travel difficulties and facility issues.  She taught all of us so many valuable lessons.  She loved SIU and made this her home.  She literally changed the course of my life with one phone call and a job offer.  She will be missed by everyone of her athletes and assistant coaches that worked with her.”

Statement from SIU Jen Sewell on the passing of Dr. Kay Brechtelsbauer:
“Every time we put our feet on Kay Brechtelsbauer Field I think about her legacy.  Female coaches and athletes are keenly aware of what pioneers like Coach B went through to launch their programs and to operate at a championship level the way she did.  The Saluki Softball culture today of servant leadership, accountability, and excellence in everything we do was established by Kay.  Kerri and I are just the lucky understudies of her mentorship and friendship surrounding the sport of softball.  To succeed Coach B meant to carry on the standard of excellence she established here at SIU in the 1960s. She will be dearly missed by our program.”

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