News from the Aurora University community

Balancing college life and winning

Posted by on June 20, 2016

McKenzieblogHead Softball Coach Mike McKenzie wants one thing for his players: A great four-year experience. And for him that means success both on the field and in the classroom — but it never means compromise.

“When I recruit students to come play, I tell them that at AU academics come first,” he said. “Our primary goal is to get them through with their degree in four years. Winning games isn’t everything.”

Even so, his teams do win — a lot.

Since coming to Aurora as head coach of the softball program in 2004, McKenzie has accumulated a 442–123–2 record and taken home three Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference (NIIC) titles, seven Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) championships and four NACC tournament championships. He was named NIIC Coach of the Year twice and NACC Coach of the Year six times, including this year.

Perhaps most impressive, the Spartans have made seven trips to the NCAA Division III championships during McKenzie’s 13 seasons here — going all the way to the “Sweet 16” in 2005 and 2010 — while compiling a 250–28 conference record.

This year the team took top honors in NACC play with a 19–3 record. The Spartans were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Div. III tournament, for an overall record of 32–14.

McKenzie earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Marian College in Indianapolis in 1986. He later completed a master’s degree in kinesiology at Indiana University.

He currently lives in Naperville with his two Labrador retrievers, Bubby and Louie, who keep him busy whenever he is not attending a Cubs game.