HOLLAND - The appointment of Mary Vande Hoef as the softball coach at Hope College has been announced by Dr. Mark Northuis, chair of the department of kinesiology.

Vande Hoef will succeed Karla Wolters who retired from the faculty and as softball coach at the conclusion of this past season. She will also oversee the college's intramurals program and serve as assistant director of the Dow Center.

"We are very excited to have Mary direct our softball and intramural programs," said Dr. Northuis. "She has been an integral part of two very successful Division III softball coaching staffs. Mary brings a strong winning tradition and a passion for providing an environment that will foster softball and intramural programs of nationally recognized excellence."

Vande Hoef comes to Hope with a strong undergirding in NCAA Division III athletics. She played softball at Central College in Pella, Iowa and has been an assistant softball coach the past five years, first at Ithaca College and most recently her alma mater where she also served as assistant alumni director.

"I am deeply motivated to coach at the NCAA Division III level," said Vande Hoef. "As a former student-athlete, I appreciate the role athletics plays in a student's college experience, and the impact sport can make for a lifetime. I will strive to instill in my players a strong desire to win on and off the field, to respect the game, have passion for excellence, and a belief in themselves that will allow them to be better persons when they leave Hope."

"Like many of our alumni, Mary gave so much as a player," said Central softball coach George Wares. "The fact that she saw limited time on the field yet was instrumental in many ways in us winning a national championship, speaks volumes. She provided so much leadership on and off the field. Since then she has continued her support of the program not just as a coach, but in working with our alumni."

Wares, who ranks second in career wins in NCAA Division III, said Vande Hoef will be deeply committed to helping her team be successful. "You start with her passion, enthusiasm and energy. She loves the sport. Obviously, Hope is already a pretty solid program, but she's going to be determined to not only continue that but move it up even a notch higher."

Central associate head coach Alicia O'Brien, who was also a successful head coach at Western Connecticut State University, described Vande Hoef as a young, energetic, positive person. "Mary will put a heavy emphasis on personal loyalty and commitment and will set the bar high. But she won't ask the players to do anything that she isn't also asking of herself."

A co-captain of Central's 2003 NCAA Division III championship team, Vande Hoef was a four-time NCAA tournament participant and a four-year letter winner.

Vande Hoef was an infielder and saw limited action there, but was primarily used as a pinch-runner. Later she suffered a back injury which prevented her from playing early in her senior season. She appeared in 122 games in her career, scoring 39 runs and stealing 20 bases. Central compiled a 158-30-1 record during her career, with Iowa Conference titles in 2000, 2002 and 2003, third-place NCAA regional finishes in 2000 and 2002, a national runner-up NCAA finish in 2001 and the NCAA championship in 2003.

After graduating with honors from Central in 2003, Vande Hoef earned a masters degree in sport psychology at Ithaca College, where she also helped guide the Bombers to the NCAA Division III championship tournament.

At Central Vande Hoef, worked with baserunners and with the junior varsity for three seasons and spent the last two years also coaching the Dutch pitchers. During her three seasons as a Central assistant, the Dutch posted a 90-38 record, including a 36-8 mark in 2009 and a 30-14 record in 2010. Central captured the 2009 Iowa Conference title and made NCAA Division III tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010.