June 24, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame softball head coach Deanna Gumpf officially announced on Tuesday that Jamie Spitale has been added to the Irish staff as the program's volunteer assistant coach. Spitale, formerly a longtime assistant coach at Western Michigan University, will begin working with the Notre Dame softball program immediately in preparation for the 2015 season.
Spitale served on the coaching staff at Western Michigan for 13 seasons from 2000-13, being elevated to the title of associate head coach in July of 2005. She was the primary pitching coach for the Broncos while also providing instruction to the team's catchers and infielders, along with overseeing the program's recruiting efforts.
"We're thrilled to have Jamie join our staff," Gumpf said. "With her experience, knowledge and expertise, everything that she can bring to the table, we feel like we hit the jackpot with her. She is going to make such a big impact on this team, and she is someone who understands the game, who loves the game and is passionate. She is a perfect fit for our staff."
"(Coaching at Notre Dame) is something that a lot of people dream to do," Spitale said. "It's just a great University with a top-notch program in the country, and great people that I have known for a long time. It's very exciting for my family and I to be able to do something like this.
"I have a comfort zone with the coaching staff already, and Deanna and I have always talked over the years about different things relating to pitching," Spitale added. "It will be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, with our strengths, to help each other out and to be able to help the pitching staff as well. I think it will be an easy and good transition for me and the rest of the team."
During Spitale's tenure at Western Michigan, Bronco pitchers secured 11 total all-Mid-American Conference (MAC) accolades, including nine first team selections.
Meredith Whitney, a three-time all-MAC first team choice, finished her Western Michigan career in 2012 as the program leader in innings pitched (720.2) and strikeouts (742), and ranked second in career wins (62) and complete games (82) in the Broncos record book under Spitale's tutelage.
At least one of Spitale's Western Michigan pitchers was named to an all-conference team every season from 2003 until 2012. Joining four-time selection Whitney (2009-12) was Laura Stewart (2003-04), Jaymie Voss (2004), Tricia VanDerSlik (2005), Krysten Shumaker (2006) and Kyla Sullivan (2007-08) as all-MAC performers during the 10-season span.
Voss was also named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America first team in 2004, the first Western Michigan softball player to receive first team Academic All-America honors since Bonnie Kinnie in 1984.
Whitney became the first Western Michigan player ever to be named the most valuable player of the MAC Championship tournament in 2011, posting a 5-1 tournament record that included three complete game wins on the final day to clinch the conference title for the Broncos. The conference championship victory earned Western Michigan its third all-time bid to the NCAA Championship, where the Broncos ultimately fell to Gumpf's Notre Dame squad 4-0 on May 21, 2011, during the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional.
Spitale coached both Shumaker (2006) and Sullivan (2007) to consecutive selections on the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Mideast all-region second team, with Shumaker being the first Western Michigan player named to the all-region team since 1997. It was also the first time Bronco players had received all-region citations in back-to-back years since the 1994-95 seasons.
Western Michigan made its first NCAA Championship appearance in more than 20 years in 2003, Spitale's third season on the team's coaching staff. The Broncos finished 2003 with a 30-24 record after seeing their season end in Region 7 of the NCAA tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Prior to joining the Western Michigan coaching ranks in 2000, Spitale spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Lake Michigan College from 1997-2000. The softball program boasted nine all-conference, four all-state, four all-region and three All-America selections during Spitale's tenure.
Spitale also served a dual role as assistant athletic director at Lake Michigan College, maintaining a primary focus on academic development. A total of 41 athletes were named academic all-league, and five garnered national all-academic citations with Spitale overseeing the program's academic efforts.
An all-academic selection during a standout career in the circle at Lake Michigan College, Spitale helped lead the program to a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship victory in 1993. During her collegiate playing career at LMC, Spitale was a member of two regional championship teams, earned all-conference, all-region and all-state honors, and was a second team All-America honoree.
Spitale graduated from Hillsdale College with a bachelor's degree in science in 1997, and obtained a master's degree in athletic administration from Western Michigan in 2004. She was inducted into the St. Joseph's High School (Mich.) Hall of Fame in 2003 in recognition of her softball accomplishments.
"She'll make an immediate impact with the team, and once the girls have one day with her, they will realize how lucky they are to have Jamie around," Gumpf said. "Not only with her coaching experience but the person that she is. She is fun and she gets the bigger picture, gets what we are about, and we couldn't be more happy to have her."