Saluki Hall of Fame coach Kai Brechtelsbauer dies

The Southern Illinois University softball program lost one of its all-time greats, as the Southern Illinois University Hall of Fame passed away Sunday morning.

Brechtelsbauer served as SIU’s head softball coach for 32 years from 1968 to 1999, setting a record of 633-438-2. She served as a head coach for more years than any woman in SIU history. She became only the 25th coach of any college to win 600 career games and her teams set winning records in 27 of her 32 seasons as head coach. She had 18 seasons 20 wins and eight 30 wins and her teams made five games at the Women’s World College Championship, including the 1978 team that won the Illinois State AIAW and Midwest Country titles and placed seventh in the World College Women’s Championship.

Her team in 1991 went 42-7 and won SIU’s first conference championship. This team had a 23-game winning streak, set 25 school records and went 14-0 perfectly in Gateway Conference play. Meanwhile, Brechtelsburg was named Coach of the Year at this year’s Gateway Conference. She was inducted into the SIU Hall of Fame in 1994 and her 633rd career win remains the fifth in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Brechtelsbauer graduated from the University of Central Michigan in 1965 before coming to SIU where she earned two graduate degrees. She earned a master’s degree in 1966 and a doctorate in educational psychology in 1980. Brechtelsbauer made academics a focal point for players, earning 12 GTE Academic All-Americans from 1987 to 1999, more than any sport greyhound.

The visitation and funeral will be on September 13, 2022 at the Savior Lutheran Church in Carbondale. The visit begins at 1 pm, followed by the funeral at 3 pm

Statement by Saluki Hall of Famer Kerri Blaylock regarding the death of Dr. Kay Brechtelsbauer:
“Coach Brechtelsbauer has been a pioneer in the sport of softball. She has made an incredible impact on me and many student-athletes during my 32 years at SIU as Head Softball Coach. She thrived at a time of low budgets, travel difficulties and facilitation issues. She taught us all so much. Valuable lessons. She loved SIU and made this her home. She literally changed the course of my life with one phone call and a job offer. Both her athletes and assistant coaches she worked with will miss her.”

Statement from SIU Jane Sewell On the death of Dr. Kay Brechtelsbauer:
“Every time we set foot in Kay Brechtelsbauer Stadium, I think of her legacy. Coaches and mathematicians are acutely aware of what pioneers like Coach B have gone through to launch their programs and work at the championship level the way she did. The Greyhound Kay established a softball culture of servant leadership, accountability, and excellence in Everything we do. Keri and I are just lucky substitutes for her mentorship and friendship surrounding the sport of softball. For Coach B to succeed, the goal was to continue the level of excellence she established here at SIU in the 1960s. She will be greatly missed by our program.”