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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn., (Dec. 14, 2022) – East Tennessee State University Interim Athletic Director Dr. Richard Sander announced on Wednesday the hiring of Cheryl Milligan as ETSU’s interim softball head coach.
Milligan comes to ETSU with 25 years of coaching experience, including 18 years as a head coach – most recently spending the last four years at Army.
“I want to thank Dr. (Brian) Noland, Dr. (Richard) Sander, and the ETSU Athletic Department for this opportunity,” said Milligan. “I am excited to join the ETSU family and move forward with this group of student-athletes to help accomplish their goals on and off the field.”
During her time as a head coach at Tufts University and Army, Milligan built a career record of 540-208, resulting in a .722 winning percentage.
“We are excited to have Coach Milligan take over leadership of our softball program,” said Sander. “She comes to ETSU with a lot of experience and has been successful at various levels during her career. She had an outstanding career as a student-athlete, won National Championships as a coach at Tufts, and led some of the most honored and disciplined student-athletes at Army. We look forward to her instilling her values here at ETSU.”
Milligan began her coaching career at Tufts in 1998 where she was an assistant coach at her alma mater. She spent her first six seasons as an assistant coach before taking over as the head coach from 2004-18.
In her 15 years at the helm, Milligan led Tufts to an astonishing record of 490-148 (.768), including seven trips to the Division III NCAA Tournament, five appearances in the Women’s College World Series and three NCAA Division III National Championships.
Milligan led the Jumbos to three straight national titles from 2013-15, becoming the first team in NCAA Division III history to win three consecutive championships. Tufts finished with records of 46-3 in 2013, 47-4 in 2014 and capped off a perfect 51-0 season in 2015 where the Jumbos won the national championship with a 7-4 win over University of Texas-Tyler. The 51 wins in 2015 tied the NCAA Division III record for most victories in a season with the 2011 Linfield team. In addition to that record, Tufts also extended its winning streak to 53 straight games, dating back to the 2014 campaign, marking a NCAA Division III record.
Prior to the run of three straight national championships, Milligan led the Tufts to NCAA Championship appearances in 2009 and 2012 as well. The 2012 team finished tied for fifth nationally and the 2009 squad was fourth. In 2009, the Jumbos went 44-3 (.936) and finished 41-7 (.854) in 2012.
The 2009, 2013 and 2014 Tufts teams rank among the top-20 all-time in NCAA single-season winning percentage.
Milligan was an eight-time recipient of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year award, while she led the Jumbos to 10 NESCAC titles and six NCAA Regional/Super Regional Championships. The Tufts staff were recognized as the National Coaching Staff of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) from 2013-15.
Milligan and her staff did an exceptional job developing players as 11 Tufts players earned All-American honors, coached 10 NESCAC Players of the Year and a pair of NCAA Division III Athlete of the Year honors in 2013 and 2015. In 2005, Milligan saw the Jumbos lead the nation in home runs per game with a 1.20 average.
Following her illustrious career at Tufts, Milligan went to Army where she was an assistant coach in 2018 and then took over head coaching duties in 2019.
Milligan’s first season at the helm with the Black Knights was in 2020, which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Army, who won its final five games in the shortened campaign, went 14-9. A year later, the Black Knights won 12 games in the Patriot League, marking the most since the 2016 season. Army defeated eventual conference champion Boston University, 7-4, on April 9 – the only conference loss and one of four overall dealt to Boston U. in 2021.
In her two seasons where Army played conference games, the Black Knights finished above .500 in both the 2021 and 2022 campaigns. Army also made appearances in the Patriot League Tournament in both seasons.
Milligan coached eight Black Knights to All-Patriot League honors in her three years as the leader at Army, while seeing 13 cadet-athletes being placed on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.
Milligan, a 1995 Tufts graduate, was a four-year starter at shortstop where she played in every inning during her collegiate career. She hit .377, which ranks 11th all-time in program history, and is also 11th all-time in runs scored (119) and her 84 walks place her second among Tufts players. Milligan was a part of four straight winning seasons as a player – finishing with 90 wins – including going 31-5 her senior year where the Jumbos hosted and won the ECAC North Championship.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the softball tab.