Thunder Softball Coaching Staff
Donnie Danklefsen took the helm as head coach of the Thunder softball team in 2004. Coach Danklefsen transformed the Trine softball team into a Midwest Region powerhouse and MIAA contender.
The team captured the school's first MIAA Championship in 2007 and added titles in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. The Thunder have made NCAA Regional appearances in four consecutive seasons from 2008-2012.
Under Coach D the Lady Thunder have been regionally and nationally ranked the past three seasons, while leading the MIAA in many defensive and offensive categories. Some MIAA individual honors include the 2007 Most Valuable Player, 2008 Most Valuable Pitcher, 2009 Batting Crown Champion and the first-ever player to be named the Most Valuable Player and Pitcher in the same season.
In eight seasons as member of the MIAA, the Thunder have produced 18 members of the All-MIAA First Team and 16 members of the All-MIAA second team. Coach Danklefsen joined the NFCA 100 wins club in 2010 and 200 wins club in 2012. Coach Danklefsen graduated from Tri-State University in 2003 with a degree in Sport Management. While at Tri-State, Danklefsen was a member of the men's basketball team. He was named team captain in the 2002-2003 season and was an emotional leader for the Thunder.
Coach Danklefsen believes that team chemistry, dedication and putting the betterment of yourself aside for the betterment of the team are the keys to success that he hopes to instill in the Thunder softball program.
Work Hard & Have Fun!
Dennis Smith joined the Thunder in 2010. He will work with pitchers and catchers. He spent the past 10 years in the same position at NCAA Division I, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Coach Smith was an assistant coach for IPFW during its transition period from Division II to Division I. In 2009, his pitching staff had an accumulated ERA of 2.63. The 2008 squad played in the conference championship game. Smith was also responsible for recruiting his pitchers on a national and international level.
As a player, Smith played fast-pitch in Iowa from 1980-1998, including a number of state and regional tournaments in that span.
Coach Smith is also employed at Courier Kendallville.