BRENHAM, Texas — The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Office announced that long-time Blinn College softball coach Rick Church has been inducted into the NJCAA Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Church, who ranks 14th in all-time softball wins in the NJCAA, was honored with Stacy Iveson, Steve DePasquale, and Van Hedrick in the reputable 2021 class.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this honor and be among the elite group of people who have dedicated their lives to coaching softball,” Church said. “Every year I have a new team to work with and I am always striving to build and teach these young women to be good softball players, students, and respectable people. I am honored to work with these young women and to work at Blinn College that has been supportive of athletics.”
Church has served as the head softball coach at Blinn for 22 years and holds the record for most all-time victories at Blinn with 854 wins. Church also served as the head softball coach at Arizona Western College from 1990-1992.
In 24 seasons as a head softball coach in the NJCAA, Church has compiled a 928-403 (.697) record. He coached seven teams to the NJCAA Division I Softball Championship in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and most recently in 2015. The Buccaneers finished second in the nation in 2003, the best finish in program history. Under Church, the Buccaneers have earned 16 wins at the national tournament.
“I have stayed true to my core values and principles of bringing in the right kind of student-athletes who fit our program and we have managed to win around that group,” Church said. “I am grateful for this milestone and want to try to improve every day and build solid softball players, students, and people.”
Church is a five-time Region XIV Coach of the Year and has led the Buccaneers to 20 Region XIV Tournament appearances. His teams have won 10 conference championships and seven regional championships.
In 24 seasons, Church coached 18 NJCAA All-Americans and 81 all-region and all-conference players. While at Blinn, he coached 34 NJCAA Academic All-Americans and seven NJCAA Academic Teams of the Year.
In 2020, Church was recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association for earning his 900th victory. Church also has earned numerous coaching staff of the year honors with his assistant coaches, including long-time assistant Jami Ingram. Most recently, Church and Ingram were named the 2019 Region XIV Coaching Staff of the Year after the Buccaneers went 44-15 and recorded a program-best 23-1 conference record.
“I am so happy to see Coach Church reach this incredible milestone in his career that is very well-deserved,” Ingram said. “I feel so happy and fortunate to have been around him since I was 14 years old, and to have been coached and mentored by him. His passion for the game has remained just as strong throughout the years and it has been a great honor to coach alongside him.”
Before arriving at Blinn College, Church served as co-founder, owner, and head instructor for the Can-Am Baseball/Softball Academy in Langley, British Columbia, from 1992-1997. While in Canada, he also was the coach of the White Rock Renegades women’s fast pitch team. The Renegades won back-to-back Canadian championships in 1993 and 1994. His overall record with the Renegades was 179-46 (.790). He had the privilege of training eight current or former Canadian National Team players. He joined the Can-Am Academy Houston operation as a consultant from 1997-1999.
Church served as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska from 1986-1989. During that time, the Huskers made two College World Series appearances, finishing third and fifth, respectively, in 1987 and 1988.
During his coaching tenure he has traveled with teams to Taiwan, Australia, and Holland. In the summer of 2001, his team finished third in an international tournament in Holland. He has also been a speaker, presenter, or clinician at over 200 camps and clinics. In 2006, Church was selected to join the Canadian National Team coaching pool.
In the summer of 2006, he was a coach for the Canada Elite team and was elevated to the National Team staff in December 2006. In the summer of 2007, the Canadian National Team earned a silver medal at the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Church has earned doctoral hours from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in kinesiology from Sam Houston State University, and his bachelor’s degree from Kearney State College, where he played college baseball as an infielder.