Tag Archives: olympics

1996 Olympic Hero Moves to a Tiny Town with Big Dreams

web_SB_2014_Dot_RichardsonDot Richardson, two time Olympian has moved to Lynchburg, Va to become the head softball coach at Liberty University.  Richardson is taking over for Paul Wetmore who has been with the softball program since 1994.  Wetmore finished his coaching career with a 547-617-1 record.  Now Liberty plans to take the program to a new level by striving to become national ranked and update the facilities. Richardson was recently interviewed by LU and explained she has three goals planned out:

1. Continue the Christ centered focus in the softball program.

2. Make the program more competitive and become nationally ranked.

3. Improve the softball budget to update facilities.

To watch the “Getting to Know Dot Richardson” interview, go to this link : http://www.liberty.edu/flames/index.cfm?PID=10854&TeamID=2

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This is Richardson’s first official collegiate coaching position.  She brings along with her an entire coaching staff which includes her husband, Bob Pinto, and Paige Cassady.  Pinto has over 30 years of softball experience stretching from high school to professional levels.  Cassady has been hired on to be the pitching coach. Cassady brings along several years of collegiate pitching experience from inside and outside the circle.

Left - Bob Pinto Middle - Dot Richardson Right - Paige Cassady

Left – Bob Pinto
Middle – Dot Richardson
Right – Paige Cassady

Along with Richardson’s three main goals, she mentions several attributing goals in her interview.  Richardson hopes to help the female athletes in the softball program to reach their full potential as an athlete.  Not everyone can be the best player on the field but she plans to help each player reach at their own individual highest level that is obtainable.  Richardson also hopes to give these players the ability to impact others off the field when they graduate from LU. These might be the last years these players play the sport, so they need to be able to empower others once the game is over.

So what does this mean to the softball community in Lynchburg?  Having such highly experienced and well-known softball figures in the community will greatly impact softball in Lynchburg.  Richardson has been receiving hundreds of emails from interested high schoolers who want to play at Liberty.  As a result, many of these players will end up getting involved with the nearby high school softball programs, travel softball teams, and even slowpitch leagues.  Having these influencers will improve the local softball player’s skill levels and hopefully bring even more players into the system.  Bringing Dot Richardson on board to the softball program at LU is a win not only for the university, but as well for the community.

Currently, LU’s softball field conditions are not very impressive.  The field looks like a generic high school field and does not match up to other university’s facilities.  Plans to update the field are in the works.  Luckily, LU has just updated that baseball field.  This upgrade will give Liberty a sample to go by when building the new softball field. The plan is to make the softball field a miniature version of the new baseball field.  Below are pictures of both the new Liberty baseball field and the current softball field; which will be upgraded soon!

LU Baseball Field

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LU Softball Field

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Photo credit: http://www.liberty.edu/flames/index.cfm?PID=10867&CoachID=792&TeamID=2 and http://www.dailycommercial.com/sports/article_7ccc94bf-094b-5203-a679-7e9f2824b505.html


What is the Beautifully Powerful Campaign Going On?

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As I began researching for this softball focused blog, I kept coming across players saying #beautifullypowerful with shades of bright blues and purples flashing in images.  At first I ignored the colorful pictures and the girly saying thinking it had nothing to do with my beloved dirt, sweat, and blood stained oriented sport.  I grew up thinking girls should not wear pink, make up, or sparkles on the field. Camo, black uniforms, war paint, and dirt stains was the desired look. Proving that you were a tough threatening player to be reckoned with was the goal.  Seeing these girly pictures mentioning beauty had no correlation to softball to me.  I then started seeing more and more photos of girls wearing dresses, cleats, and war paint on softball fields.  Seeing the raw images of girls wearing dresses while contradicting these dresses with fierce war painted faces began to intrigue me.  What was this marketing campaign? Why are girls wearing prom dresses to dirt-covered fields and holding gloves and softball bats as if they were weapons?

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I decided to find out. I quickly learned that the marketing campaign is being run by Louisville Slugger for fastpitch softball and the face of the campaign is two time Olympian Jessica Mendoza.  As I learned more about the campaign, the more I impressed I became.  I greatly admired how they made an outfielder the face rather than the typical pitcher.  Seeing other players on the field being represented and recognized is great change.   I found a few videos explaining the campaign.  The main point from the campaign is to be yourself because you are beautiful the way you are.  Jessica Mendoza intensely explains,

“Be yourself, be what you think is beautiful, not what others think is beautiful. What you see in the mirror is beauty. Softball is a game for every body type, therefore don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t dream and be that amazing player you want to be.  Anyone who works hard enough can become successful in the game.”

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This message is very empowering. It is bringing young girls together and helping them learn that even if they are short, tall, have a lot of muscle, don’t have much muscle, that they can become a player like Jessica Mendoza on the field.  Nothing should stand in their way.  Girls are being reassured that they can be themselves, the dorky girl, the artsy girl, the girl with crazy hair are all beautiful in their own way.  It’s ok to be girly and play softball.  You can be contradicting just like the campaign.  You do not have to fit a stereotype.  As long as you are true to yourself, you will be great.

The campaign is wonderful. I plan to continue to follow it as long as it runs.  I even tried to contact Louisville Fastpitch to gain the brand wristbands for my softball playing nieces (with no luck).  I still hope the campaign continues to be a great success!

Below are videos and pictures of the campaign.

http://www.slugger.com/fastpitch-softball/ (Video)

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Photo credit: twitter.com and pinterest.com


Jennie Finch Maybe Anything but Retired: The Olympic-distance Aquaphor NYC Triathlon Coverage

This past Sunday, on July 14th, Jennie Finch, two-time softball Olympian, competed in the Olympic-distance Aquaphor New York City Triathlon.  The race included at 1500m swim through the Hudson River, a 40k bike race along Manhattan’s West Side highway, and a 10k run through Central Park. The race concluded in that order with over 3,000 athletes competing in the race.

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Race Map

Even though this was Finch’s 3rd triathlon experience, she is still learning the tricks of the trade.  She mentioned many times throughout her training that she has been focusing on her transitions throughout the race.

One of Finch’s main fears was for the open water swim.  The race would involve just short of a one-mile  open water swim all going in one direction across the fierce Hudson River.  Finch had a little hardship training for the swim due to living alligator country in Louisiana.  Training in local ponds and swimming holes were a bit nerve-racking since several fish or possibly gators kept touching her in the dark water!  Even after those close calls, Finch says the swimming portion of the triathlon has become her favorite part.

Finch at the Starting Line

Finch at the Starting Line

Another focus for Finch was to maintain hydration during the race.  Finch packed lots of water.  She also packed many packs of Gu gel to get electrolytes and bursts of energy.

Finch Bike Training

Finch Bike Training

Finch finished the race in 2 hours and 51 minutes and placed 34th in her division.  Below is a video showing her sprinting through finish line. At the end, Finch’s son Ace begged her to not participate in anymore triathlons but we’ll see if this Olympian can stay seated on the bench.

Finch with Family After the Race

Finch with Family After the Race

Final Race Times

Final Race Times

Finch Crossing Finish Line Video

Find out more about Jennie Finch’s race? Visit her special in ESPN W. http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/article/9479549/espnw-olympic-softball-star-jennie-finch-finishes-aquaphor-new-york-city-triathlon-ahead-schedule

Event Website: http://www.nyctri.com/

Photo Credit: http://espn.go.com/espnw/search/finch/ and https://twitter.com/jfinch27


Japan wins the 2013 Junior Women’s World Championships!

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Overview of the tournament

The JWWC was held in Ontario, Canada this year from July 1st-7th.  Sixteen countries came to the 19-U tournament which included; USA, Canada, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Korea, Venezuela, Japan, Australia, Brazil, China, Botswana, Netherlands, Singapore, and Mexico.  A total of seventy-three games were played in the tournament.  All games are available for viewing at http://www.sportscanada.tv/2013jwwc/index.php/broadcast-schedule.

All of the teams managed to make it to Canada except for Venezuela due to not being able get all the needed passports before the tournament began.

The USA played a solid eight games during the tournament.  After the USA defeated Japan once in the winner’s bracket, Japan came back with vengeance fighting their way to the gold medal game.  Japan managed to pull out a victory over undefeated USA in their ninth game in the tournament.

Final Bracket

Gold Medal: Japan

Silver Medal: USA

Bronze Medal: Australia

How the USA Players are Chosen

Players are chosen by invitation to the USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Camp.  The players who accept the invite compete for the 17-18 open spots on the Junior Softball Women’s National Team to represent the United States.  This years’ junior team selection included 17 college freshmen all-stars from across the nation.  The roster can be found here http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Softball/Team-USA/Junior-Women.

Tournament Future Impact

The tournament added great publicity for the softball community.  The tournament buzz was all over Twitter and Facebook with live updates.  Fans were able to easily keep up with the rain delays and even see and pictures of the field conditions.  The best live-streaming mechanism used was the live-scoring on http://www.jwwc2013.com.  Below is a picture of what the live-scoring looked like where fans can watch updates on all the games being played at once.

US vs PR

Hopefully, all of this new media coverage will help Baseball/Softball to be voted back into the 2020 Olympics!  The age that group played in the tournament include likely candidates to play in the Olympics if the sport is voted back in.  These girls can possibly become the new major faces of softball and be up there with softball idols such as Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez, and Jessica Mendoza.

Below Team USA tries to clean up the field during the final game so that they can play the last inning. Picture was found from a live update on Twitter.

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Exciting Moments from the tournament

New Zealand performing game chant.

Interview with the coach of Team Japan. I love that he states that they came specifically to beat the US!

Photo credit: twitter.com


Add Softball Back into the Olympics Please!

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Softball has been bundled with baseball for consideration to be added back to the 2020 Olympic Games.  Which probably brings you to many questions.  Below are Q&A pertaining to the upcoming decision.

What sports is Softball/Baseball competing with to get into the 2020 Olympics?

Wrestling and Squash

Who is making this decision?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)

When will the decision be made?

September 2013

What are the decision factors going to be when comparing these sports?

  • Is the sport widely played? (Typical standard is about 80 countries need to be playing the sport. Luckily, softball is played in over 100 countries worldwide.)
  • What is the interest for the sport on a global basis?
  • Who is following the sport?
  • What is the sport’s television ratings at the Olympic Games?
  • How many tickets are sold?
  • Do the best players get the chance to play?
  • Has there been any drug problems in this sport?

What can softball do to increase awareness and interest?

  • Continue to promote softball and baseball for the September decision.
  • Support the World Baseball Softball Confederation Olympic Bid at http://playball2020.com/
  • Like the PlayBall2020 Facebook Fan Page and tell your friends to also! https://www.facebook.com/PlayBall2020
  • Promote key players so that there are more faces representing the sport.
  • Create special events that draw national interest and awareness.
  • Order a “Bring It Back” t-shirt to show your support at ow.ly/mIiCU 

Can softball keep reapplying to be added to the Olympics if it isn’t reinstated?

Yes, there is no limit on number of attempts. As the interest continues to grow, the sport will have a better chance to be reinstated.

Information based on article: http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/9325704/espnw-val-ackerman-chats-harvey-schiller-softball-latest-man-column

Photo credit: http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/womens-softball-up-at-bat-for-the-2020-olympic-games/


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