Amanda Harrington
Ferris State's Amanda Harrington reaches back to first base as she attempts to avoid a tag during her team's Sunday morning game against Shippensburg at the Rebel Spring Games at the Osceola County Softball Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photo by Sandy Gholston).

Ferris State Athletics Hall of Famer Pays Bulldogs A Special Visit

By Sandy Gholston

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The passion Bob Leach, a 2000 inductee of the Ferris State University Bulldog Athletic Hall of Fame, has for the university is unquestioned. Leach and his wife, Mary Louise, spent two days in Kissimmee, Fla. in a show of support for the Bulldog softball team competing in the annual Rebel Spring Games to begin softball season.

Leach, who is and enthusiastic supporter of Ferris athletics financially and as a fan, had an inspirational message for the Bulldogs’ softball players following a 3-2 win over Minnesota State at the Osceola County Softball Complex. The man who coached Ferris’ 1968 undefeated football team that finished 7-0-1 – the only team to go through an entire season undefeated – knows a thing or two about success, the crimson and gold and what it means to be a true Bulldog.

“I told them that performance builds tradition and tradition builds performance … tradition and performance truly go hand in hand,” said Leach, who spends this time of the year in the Florida home he and his wife keep. “The thing I like about this team, in the two days I was able to watch them, is they truly played like Bulldogs and I told them that. A Bulldog is going to keep on fighting and is never going to quit. I think our ladies showed that in the games I was able to see them play.”

Ferris’ annual spring softball trip is a special time for Leach, who looks forward to making the short trip to Kissimmee. He was able to watch the Bulldogs’ Saturday victories over St. Joseph’s (Ind.), 4-3, and Northern Kentucky, 10-2. The team sputtered a bit in a 2-0 loss to Shippensburg (Pa.) to begin the day. Kayle Stevenson took the loss as she pitched seven innings, allowed four hits, three walks and struck out three. The good news, however, was that freshman outfielder Lynsay Weaver continues her hot start to the season as she had two hits in three trips to the plate in the loss. Weaver, a Bay City native, continued to excel in the second game as she was 2-for-3 with a solo home run. Shortstop McKenzie West also smacked a home run in the sixth inning as the Bulldogs rallied for a 3-2 win over Minnesota State to finish Sunday on a high note.

Leach watched the games, like a hawk, while he also took time to meet with as many fellow Bulldogs as he could during the two days he was in Kissimmee.

“It’s tremendous to be part of this and to get to spend time getting to know the players and the coaches and their families,” said Leach, also has been inducted in the Great Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame (1990) and the Mecosta County Sports Hall of Fame (1985). “It’s nice to meet so many people who have a connection with Ferris and Big Rapids … even when we are this far away.

“I love supporting Ferris sports whether its men’s or women’s sports … it’s not just about supporting football for me,” said Leach, who coached the 1968 team to the 7-0-1 record after the program had gone just 1-26-2 in the three seasons prior to his arrival in 1967. “We like to support all of the kids both financially and as fans. I believe in Ferris and love Ferris and I know supporting the university and kids are important because that is supporting our future.”

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