Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf was named as the inaugural recipient of the NFCA Donna Newberry "Perseverance" Award on Tuesday

Deanna Gumpf Named Inaugural NFCA Newberry "Perseverance" Award Winner

Sept. 23, 2014

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) has named University of Notre Dame softball head coach Deanna Gumpf as the recipient of the inaugural Donna Newberry “Perseverance” Award. Gumpf will be formally recognized during the annual NFCA National Convention in Las Vegas this December.

The award was created in honor of longtime Muskingum College coach and 2008 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee Donna Newberry, who died in November 2010 following a battle with breast cancer after compiling a 906-419-1 record over 36 seasons as a head coach. The award recognizes an NFCA member who has demonstrated extraordinary strength of will and character in the fight to overcome a physical, mental or social adversity that presented an additional challenge to the already demanding job of coach.

Gumpf, whose daughter, Tatum, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2010 but has been in remission since the fall of 2012, continued her coaching duties during her daughter’s fight. She did not miss a Notre Dame softball contest during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, leading her teams to a combined 86-27 mark and 2011 BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year recognition while also caring for Tatum during her rigorous treatment schedule.

Under the direction of Gumpf, the Notre Dame softball program has emerged as one of the national leaders in the sport in its dedication to community service causes across greater Indiana, particularly in support of pediatric cancer patients. Irish softball has raised more than $105,000 since 2011 through its Strikeout Cancer initiative that has directly assisted children in the state of Indiana battling pediatric cancer. Gumpf was honored by the Alliance of Women Coaches at its “The Bigger Picture of Being A Champion” event this past June, which highlighted coaching legends and leaders in a variety of sports who have contributed away from the playing field.

The softball program has received the Notre Dame Trophy Award, established to recognize a University varsity athletics program that exhibits excellence in community service throughout the academic year, in three of the last four years (2011, 2013, 2014).

Gumpf also participated for the second time in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge in August. The Pan-Mass Challenge raises money for life-saving cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through an annual bike-a-thon that crosses the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and has raised more money than any other charitable cause in the United States.

Newberry, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division III history when she left the game, transitioned the Muskies from a slowpitch team to a perennial fastpitch national contender. She helped guide Muskingum to 17 conference championships, 18 NCAA regional appearances, eight national championship appearances and the 2001 Division III national championship.

Newberry was the only Division III coach to be named national coach of the year in two sports — softball and basketball. As Muskingum’s women’s basketball coach, Newberry earned 403 victories and three conference championships. Her 1991 team finished as the national runner-up, falling to St. Thomas in the Division III title game. Over her distinguished career, she also served as an instructor, coach of field hockey and volleyball, women’s athletics director and assistant athletics director.

While undergoing chemotherapy treatments for her third bout with breast cancer in 2010, Newberry led the Muskies to the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament for the 25th consecutive time. In the months before her death, Muskingum dedicated its softball field in her honor, renaming it the Donna J. Newberry Softball Field, and Newberry finished a book about her coaching career and experiences — “You Must Play to Win: A Coach’s Journey from the Pit to the Pinnacle.”

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