By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
After 27 seasons Russ Milligan will no longer be at the helm of the softball program at Center Grove High School. Milligan announced recently that he was stepping down from the coach’s box after winning a record-tying five state championships, those coming in 1995, ’98, 2003, ’09 and ’15. He also coached the Trojans to three state runner-up appearances and 12 regional championships, including a state-record seven consecutive titles (1992-98) and 16 sectional trophies.
The Trojans captured a state-record 22nd sectional and 16th regional championships this season before falling to eventual state 4A champion Decatur Central in semifinal action. For years the path for many state championship teams went through Center Grove.
Milligan finishes with a remarkable .886 winning percentage (741-95). He demanded hard work and teamwork from his players and prepared his teams to win by his attention to technique, attitude and discipline. In an interview before his final season, Milligan explained the Center Grove way of playing softball and competing with high expectations.
The goal each year was to win the state championship. “It’s the expectation and that carries a lot of weight,” he said. Why else are you playing? You play to have fun for sure; but we are also playing to be the absolute best. “To have someone say you are the best – no one can take that away from you for the rest of your life.
We’re trying to accomplish something so these girls have a long-lasting memory of happiness – not a memory of what ifs or what could have beens.” Milligan is a graduate of Concord High School and Wabash College with a background in baseball, but he had never coached softball. He plans to remain at the school as a science teacher.