"Anytime your staff stays together for any length of time, and they're good, you increase your chances of being successful,"

In his time as Wayne State's softball coach, Gary Bryce, has picked up a few milestones, such as winning 1,200 games and becoming Division II's all-time wins leader last year.

This weekend, Bryce added another one to the list when he coached in his 2,000th game in as the Warriors split a doubleheader against Purdue University Northwest. 

Bryce became the first coach in Division II to reach this mark, and joined University of Michigan coach Carol Hutchins, Central Michigan's Margo Jonker and former Fresno State coach Margie Wright as just the fourth coach to reach the mark in all levels of NCAA Softball.

Bryce said that he hadn't thought about closing in on 2,000 games coached, but knew he was getting close when WSU Athletics Sports Information Director Jeff Weiss told him that he was less than three games from 2,000.

Bryce said that he got into playing sports at an early age and developed an interest in coaching towards the end of his athletic career.

"[I] Thought that if I couldn't make it in the pros that I'd like to be in coaching, and maybe I could help some other kids have an opportunity to have the same chances that I had in life," said Bryce.

While coaching three sports at Royal Oak Dondero High, including softball, where he posted a 130-36 record, Bryce was nominated to interview for WSU's softball job in 1981 and he began his tenure at Wayne State in 1982.

While other schools have taken notice at the success of WSU's softball program, and Bryce has been offered positions elsewhere, he said that the closest he ever came to leaving Wayne State was in his fourth year as softball coach in 1985.

"Well I actually had the Bowling Green job in my fourth year in, and I was driving down to Bowling Green to sign the papers and I said that I'm not going to do it," said Bryce.

Bryce said that the upward direction of WSU's softball program at that time was a main factor in turning down the job.

As to why he's chosen to stay at Wayne State, Bryce said, "I just like where I am," said Bryce. "I like the university. I think that it's a sound academic university [and WSU] Athletics has been good to me, so there was no reason to move on."

Bryce said one of the biggest keys to success for the softball team years has been stability within his coaching staff.

"Anytime your staff stays together for any length of time, and they're good, you increase your chances of being successful," Bryce said.

While Bryce said moments such as the softball team making the NCAA Tournament in 1983 after being left out the year before, and the 2010 team making the College World Series for the first time were a highlight for him, he said seeing his players do well in the classroom and graduate has been the biggest thrill.

"Overall, the kids have graduated, the kids have done well in school [and] hopefully they've been rewarded in their softball experiences that have helped them in life," Bryce said. "But overall, the kids have been great."

Bryce said one of the reasons he's still coaching is because he's been around sports for so long and if he were to retire, he'd try to coach in some capacity.

"That's probably why I've been staying around as long as I have," said Bryce. "It keeps me busy, it has to be done and we've been successful, [and] when you're successful, you tend to stay with what's been good to you."

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