FAMU’s Wiggins to leave coaching at end of season

By FAMU Sports 


Florida A&M University head softball coach Veronica Wiggins will put down her clipboard at the conclusion of the 2020 softball season. In doing so, she leaves a legacy unlike any other.

On Monday, FAMU announced her decision to retire.

The records, the accolades, and the championships will pale in comparison to what she will leave the game with. Respect.

Those who know her say respect is paramount with Wiggins. 

Veronica Wiggins, the second winningest HBCU coach, will retire from FAMU at the end of this season.
Photo by FAMU athletics

She is the middle child of a nine-child in her family. She was the first female, meaning she had to toughen up quickly and take charge as not to be dominated by her brothers.

That grit is what drove Wiggins in every aspect of her life. 

“I was like the mother in our house in Miami,” said Wiggins, who is known for nurturing her players. 

At an early age she developed the ability to lead. Driven by her brother Willie Whiting, who loved the game of baseball, Wiggins picked up the skills and translated them to softball and became a stellar player. 

Becoming a coach wasn’t on Wiggins’ mind when she came to Tallahassee at the urging of a friend who told her there were good state jobs in the city.  She came with an associates degree from Miami Dade Community College and later decided to further her education after being encouraged by some FAMU students to take one class. She was hooked.

Mentors like Edwina Martin, Sarah Hill Yates, Robert Mungen and Bobby Lang molded her into a “Rattler.” 

“When I got to this school, it was something special,” she said. “There was a feeling of home in being around students who were here to improve their lives and the awesome teachers and administration that knew what we needed to get our education.  What really got me was how the teachers cared about us. That is what made us have pride in FAMU.”

Wiggins was a part of FAMU’s transition to fast-pitch. It was not an easy transition for any of the colleges in the state of Florida. It took a unified lobbying and petition effort from the state’s coaches to convince state legislators that the change was necessary, as fast-pitch was steamrolling in popularity and the entire country was moving in that direction.

Wiggins was called to testify at the Florida Legislature for funding to help the women’s sport. 

“When we first started playing fast-pitch, we recruited slow-pitch players,” Wiggins said. “All they could do was bunt and run and play defense. Eventually we would get the roster fully-staffed in fast-pitch players.

In 1992, then athletic director Nelson Townsend offered her the head coaching job. He’s had it since. 

More than 700 wins, 12 conference championships and nine NCAA appearances later, she’s still on top of her game. She’s managed to keep her approach fresh and adapt to the ever-changing world of softball.

In 2017, she became the first HBCU coach to win 700 games. Currently, she has 771 wins.

Bethune-Cookman head coach Laura Watten has 723 wins overall, but nine of those seasons were at the University of Maryland, only 443 of her wins are among HBCUs, coaching at B-CU.