On April 28, the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) softball team defeated North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC), 5-3, in the first game of a doubleheader at the DMACC softball diamond.
The win was the 39th of the season for the Bears, who are ranked second in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II poll. And just as important, the win was the 1000th of head coach Bob Ligouri's career.
Ligouri has a career record to 1000-215 with 325 of those wins coming during eight seasons as the DMACC softball head coach. Ligouri was 408-102 in 11 seasons as the Des Moines East High School softball coach and had a 228-36 record in five seasons at West Des Moines Dowling High School.
"I never really thought that I would coach that long," Ligouri said of the milestone. "It was never really a goal of mine to do something like that."
Ligouri attributed his success to the players he has coached, the assistant coaches who have served on his coaching staffs over the years and the support of high school and DMACC school administrators.
"I've been totally blessed with great players, not just great players talent-wise, but really, really good people, from my first teams at Dowling to the great teams we had at East and, of course, DMACC," Ligouri said. "If I had to say one thing, it's that great players make great coaches. I never lost sight of that, never."
Ligouri also paid tribute to the assistant coaches who have been with him, some for as many as 29 seasons, and the school administrators who have given him their support during his career, including former DMACC-Boone Campus provost Tom Lee worked with Ligouri at Des Moines East and hired him to become the DMACC softball coach. Others include former DMACC Athletics Director Orv Salmon, current DMACC Athletics Director B.J. McGinn and current DMACC-Boone Campus provost Dr. Drew Nelson.
"With Tom Lee and Orv Salmon, especially Tom Lee because he was my boss at Des Moines East, I can't say enough for the kind of support and the kind of leader he was for us," Ligouri said. "He really allowed us to build programs and he knew how to win."
Ligouri refused to take credit for the success of his Dowling and Des Moines East programs, given that he could only coach players who chose to play softball. His teams won two state championships and finished second twice.
"When you go back to Dowling and East and DMACC, we've players who wanted to do the work," Ligouri said. "You can have the greatest drills in the world as a coach and be a creditable coach, but if your players won't buy in and put both feet in the water, you're probably not going to be real successful."
Ligouri said he has memories of every player and every team he has coached. He noted that his daughter played on his first West Des Moines Dowling team and the great teams he had at Des Moines East provide many wonderful memories.
"Our first DMACC team we built from scratch and we went to the (junior college) World Series," Ligouri said. "I don't think anybody thought that was going to happen. I've had some great teams, programs and players at DMACC and I have great memories of every one of them."
Ligouri said he plans to continue coaching for the foreseeable future. His current DMACC team is closing in on its second consecutive Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) regular season championship and a fifth consecutive trip to the NJCAA Division II National Championship is a real possibility.
"I've always coached one year at a time and I'm totally committed to doing the best job that I can," Ligouri said. "I think I'm going to coach until a point where I don't feel I'm a positive for my players. Hopefully, I'm not there yet, but I'm also a realist to know that at some point in time you get to that point. Hopefully, it won't be for a few years. We have a great recruiting class coming in next year and we've got a good start on the 2020-21 class so it's been a good run."
The DMACC softball team closes out the regular season with doubleheaders against Iowa Central Community College (ICCC) and Southwestern Community College (SWCC) on May 4 and 5 respectively. The Bears will then play in the NJCAA Region XI Softball Tournament with the winner advancing to district play and the district winner moving on to the NJCAA Division II National Championship.