DECEMBER 1 2011 UPDATE
NFCA HONORS RALPH WEEKLY
TENNESSEE SOFTBALL’S RALPH WEEKLY TO BE INDUCTED INTO NFCA HALL OF FAME
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday, Dec. 2, during an evening ceremony at the annual National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Convention in Las Vegas, Nev., Tennessee Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly will join Ithaca Head Coach Deb Pallozzi in being inducted into the prestigious NFCA Hall of Fame.
“This is a tremendous honor, especially since the selection came from my peers,” Weekly said. “The NFCA Hall of Fame and its 49 previous inclusions represent the best of the best in our profession, and I am humbled to be chosen for membership in this group. This selection would never have been possible without my wife and co-head coach Karen Weekly, assistant coach Marty McDaniel, and the many outstanding coaches and players I have worked with throughout both the collegiate and Olympic ranks. I am especially grateful to everyone in the Tennessee athletic department for providing exceptional support and encouragement.”
In a 24-year career that has spanned portions of four decades and included 1,015 overall victories, Weekly has been successful at every stop along the way. He guided Pacific Lutheran to a pair of NAIA national championships (1988 & 1992) during a nine-year stint in Tacoma, Wash., and helped build UT-Chattanooga into a Southern Conference force alongside his wife and co-head coach Karen Weekly from 1995-2001, winning four regular season and SoCon Tournament titles.
Since arriving at Rocky Top prior to the 2002 campaign, the Weeklys’ have built the Lady Vol softball program into a national powerhouse. Under the duo’s guidance, Tennessee has won 514 games while registering four top-three finishes at the Women’s College World Series during the last seven years (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010). From a league standpoint the duo’s Big Orange squads won both the 2006 and 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournaments and the 2007 SEC regular season championship. Along the way UT became the first league school to reach No. 1 in the national rankings, staying in the lofty position for a then-record 11 consecutive weeks back in 2007, and the first SEC squad to qualify for the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series (2007). During the Weeklys’ 10-season stay in Knoxville, Tennessee has reaped 21 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American selections, 34 NFCA All-Region nods, 40 combined All-SEC or SEC All-Freshman choices and an impressive 12 ESPN Academic All-Americans.
Weekly has also enjoyed a long and storied career involved with the USA Softball program, including serving as a hitting coach, third-base coach and team leader with the high-profile gold medal-winning 1996 (first-ever Olympic softball competition) and 2000 U.S. Olympic Softball squads. Included are stints as the USA Softball National Teams Director (1999-2001) and previously as a liaison to the ASA National Team Selection Committee responsible for the elite level selection process for Olympic, Pan American Games and other USA Softball National Teams. In December of 2009, Weekly was again chosen to the five-member selection committee for the USA Softball Women’s National Team. He currently assists in choosing the elite-level athletes that represent USA Softball in international competition over a three-year appointment that spans from 2010-2012.
Between 1998 and 2001, Weekly worked closely with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to ensure that USA Softball received adequate funding for its programs and was fully equipped with the technical assistance it needed. He was also instrumental in securing the funding for the development of a state-of-the-art practice facility at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The facility has been used by all of the USA Softball National Teams and continues to be an integral part of USA Softball’s success.
Under his direction, USA Softball captured the gold medal at the 1994 Pan American Games qualifier in Guatemala. He was an assistant coach on teams that won additional gold medals at the 1994 World Games in Nova Scotia, the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina, the 1996 South Pacific Classic in Australia, the 1997 Canada Cup, the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, the inaugural 1999 America Cup in San Diego, the 2000 European Championship in Rome, Italy, and the 2001 Hawaii Cup in Honolulu.
As a coach and National Teams Director for USA Softball, Weekly has appeared in 13 international tournaments, winning a gold medal each time. His international coaching record is a sterling 130-15 (.897). He has served on a pair of Olympic gold medal-winning coaching staffs and has claimed two national championships as a head coach (Pacific Lutheran, NAIA National Softball Champions, 1988 & 1992). He also directed all facets of the USA Men’s National Team from 1999-2001.
SPY Note: Wish I could be there to join in honoring my long-time friend, but medical complicationsa have kept me home. RFH
ASA PLAYER IDENTIFICATION/SCOUTING PROGRAM
ASA/USA Softball joins forces with Softball Factory for Identification program
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today a strategic partnership with the Softball Factory of Columbia, Md. In an effort to provide fast pitch players with more exposure to colleges and additional opportunities to be identified for the USA Softball Junior National Team, ASA/USA Softball and Softball Factory are launching a National Identification Program. The National Identification Program will help identify players for the USA Softball Junior National Team Selection Committee, while also providing additional college exposure and skill development through the Softball Factory brand.
The ASA strives to give players opportunities for participation and the best possible experience for those involved. With the Softball Factory as an Official Scouting Partner for ASA/USA Softball, this partnership will help facilitate that mission through various identification events and college recruiting guidance for ASA participants.
“We are excited to partner with Softball Factory in helping identify potential players for our Junior Women’s National Team Program,” said ASA/USA Softball Executive Director Ron Radigonda. “With the International Softball Federation holding Junior World Championships every two years, instead of every four years as in the past, it is vitally important that we identify players quickly as our preparation time has literally been cut in half. Softball Factory’s brother company, Baseball Factory, has a solid and longstanding history in identifying baseball players and we are thrilled to bring their expertise for our Jr. Women’s National Identification Program.”
The partnership will kick off with events for players in the 16U and 14U divisions. The primary focus of the partnership will be the National Identification Program, powered by Softball Factory. Players who attend the National Identification Program will be entered into an identification pool for the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team selection committee to review for possible selection. Currently the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team is en route to Cape Town, South Africa to compete in the IX ISF Junior Women’s World Championships where they are defending gold medalists.
“We are proud to partner with ASA/USA Softball and create new opportunities for fast pitch softball players across the country,” Steve Sclafani, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Softball Factory, said. “The National I.D. Program we are launching is designed to open doors for softball players giving them the best possible chance to reach their full potential both on and off the field. It’s a great day for amateur softball.”
The events will be held at select ASA regional facilities across the entire country. All participating players will also be considered for Softball Factory player development events and will receive guidance on the college recruiting process.
“Our sport needs Softball Factory,” said Karen Johns, USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team head coach. “This organization is revolutionizing the sport of softball and providing much needed opportunities in player development and college recruiting for players across the U.S. They have a proven system that simply gets results for players. Training at a young age is critical to success in high school softball. Our sport was really lacking in player development before Softball Factory came along. ”
Players in the 18U division will also be provided with an opportunity to participate in Softball Factory scouting workouts, during which the players will be evaluated based on their future college potential. In addition to improving softball skills, Softball Factory works with potential college players and their parents on both the academic and athletic aspects of the college search process.
Softball Factory is a division of Baseball Factory. The Columbia, Maryland-based Baseball Factory is widely recognized as the top, hands-on player development and college recruiting company in the United States. Over 3,000 players from Baseball Factory have been selected in the amateur draft, with over 260 of those players going on to the Major Leagues. In addition, Baseball Factory has assisted players in obtaining almost $1 billion in college scholarships and over 40,000 of their players have gone on to compete at the college level. The Softball Factory division was created with the same vision and principles as Baseball Factory. Softball Factory is led by Lea Ann Jarvis, a former USA National Team player and NCAA Division I college coach for 17 years. She participated on USA Softball Teams that won two ISF World Championships and had a stellar career with the Raybestos Brakettes.
SPY Note: The press release does not address three obvious matters. Can players be considered for the Junior team if they do not choose to participate in this program, which adds another element to an already time-challenged summer? Will the selection committee continue to hold tryouts, ala Chula Vista? Not least, who pays for players participation?
CHANGES IN ASA CODE
Several key changes have been made in ASA Code. See separate article
ISF PRESIDENT MEETS WITH EASTON FOUNDATIONS PRESIDENT
International Softball Federation President Don Porter on Monday met in Los Angeles with Jim Easton, president of the Easton Foundations, which is a major ISF sponsor and supporter. Mr. Easton, who suffered a stroke last year and is making a strong recovery, welcomed the ISF president for discussions on the Youth World Cup, youth development, and softball’s continuing efforts to regain Olympic status.
The ISF president (right) with Mr. Easton in California two days ago.
An International Olympic Committee Member, Mr. Easton also was interested in the ISF’s plans for a Hall of Fame & Museum. The ISF world headquarters complex in Plant City, Florida (USA), would be the site for the Hall of Fame. The facility currently hosts major international softball events, including the Easton Foundations Youth World Cup at the beginning of this year.
OPENING CEREMONIES IN SOUTH AFRICA ONE WEEK FROM TODAY
Next week Wednesday (December 7th) the ISF IX Jr. Women’s World Championship (age 19-and-under, fast pitch) will begin in Cape Town, South Africa. The Turfhall complex, which was part of the bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games, has been renovated for the tournament. ISF President Don Porter, Secretary General Ms. Low Beng Choo, and Director of Competition Laurie Gouthro will all be on-site for the event, which has 16 countries participating – the maximum allowed under ISF rules. A number of training games – starting this week – have been arranged by the various participating teams. The tournament can be followed online through the official 2011 junior world championship website, http://jwwc2011.co.za. There is also a link there to a Facebook page where fans around the world can interact with the tournament.
Sara White – 2014 – P/MI – Explosion – Notre Dame
Brittany Finney – 2015 – P/1B – Wichita Mustangs – Oklahoma
Tannon Snow – 2015 – 3B – OC Batbusters Stith – ASU
Carlee Wallace – 2014 – C – OC Batbusters Myers – ASU
Selina Ta’amilo – 2014 – P – OC Batbusters Myers – UCLA
Julia DePonte – 2014 – 3B/MI – Sorcerers Phil – Washington
Johanna Grauer – 2014 – P – Sorcerers Phil – ASU
Krista Williams – 2013 – UT – Sorcerers Phil – Northwestern
Nicole DeWitt – 2014 – OF/MI – Worth Firecrackers – Florida
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