In 1996, the first softball Olympic team played in the World Olympics, held in Georgia. Buzz about the possible formation of this team happened a few years before. From the second I heard about softball being in the Olympics, it became my dream. I didn’t share the dream out loud with anyone, it seemed like such an egotistical suggestion that I could make the team. But secretly I kept that dream close to my heart. I worked exhaustingly hard to get myself as close to that dream as possible. When 1996 came around, I went to watch a few their practices out in southern California. They were so unattainable yet attainable, they were my role models, my heroes, they were amazing. I was still in high school then. Daily, the hum of the Olympics ran through my body. When I knew I should practice and wanted to be lazy, I would think about all the other players in the US that were practicing at the exact moment. They were improving and getting closer to that dream than I was. I didn’t want them to earn that spot above me. That thought would eat at my core and I’d be outside practicing instantly.
I didn’t make the 2000 Olympic team, didn’t even get an invite to tryout, but what I did get from that dream was my hardworking self who made varsity as a starter my freshman year in high school, was a key producing player on a nationally ranked ASA Gold travel team, and earned a full ride to play Division I softball in college. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life with the drive, relentlessness and confidence that was learned and cultivated during those softball forming years. I have an inner worth that I am aware of and can lean on when I’m feeling intimidated in any situation. I’ve learned how to be strong and resilient… and humble. I like who I am because of all I have put myself through. I’ve proven to myself that I have something inside of me that will always persevere. There’s peace and pride within that feeling and I cherish it deeply, daily in all I do. I credit a dream for forming this individual I’ve become.
The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are coming!!!!! Luckily our young athletes these days have more access to college players and National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) players for inspiration. And now, after not having softball in the Olympics since 2008, our young athletes have Olympians to look up to! There’s just something about representing our country that adds to the prestigiousness in being a softball idol for our young athletes. So, my blog today is to encourage all athletes, parents and coaches to take in this time coming up to the Olympics. Pump our athletes up and let them see and feel the inspiration that comes with following the Olympic softball team. I want them to have a dream that pushes them beyond limit. To find their worth and believe in themselves.
The USA team roster was just announced this month, including 15 future Olympians and 3 replacement players, lead by head coach Ken Eriksen (Univ. of South Florida). Twenty-nine players were invited to the tryouts, held October 2-6, 2019. The softball games will occur July 22nd to August 9th, 2020. The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 24th.
If you want to read more, here is a blog by Coach Eriksen before the tryouts occurred. And here is the USA article about those that captured a place on the 2020 Olympic team.
And for the fun of it, I made a fun visual for each pitcher that made the team, including Cat Osterman, Monica Abbott, Rachel Garcia, Ally Carda, and replacement pitcher Keilani Ricketts. Here’s to inspiration!