THE ROAD AHEAD
The Women’s College World Series caps the Division 1 season, but there are aq number of national and international events ready to take center stage.
While travel ball teams are practicing to compete in various ASA national tournaments – as well as the exposure tournaments in Aurora and Boulder, Team New Jersey and Rising Stars, competition tournaments such as Champions Cup and Premier, plans are well underway to rebuild softball as an international brand, without the Olympic marquee.
The World Cup of Sofball returns to the ASA complex in Oklahoma City July 21-25.
The 2011 World Cup (sas KFC sponsorship) will include the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National Team (to be chosen in June), which will compete against 2008 Oljympic Bronze medalist Australia; 2010 ISF world championship bronze medalist Canada; 2009 European Softball bronze medalist Czech Republic, 2009 ESF silver medalist Great Britain, and 2008 Olympic champion Japan.
A strong field which should expand in 2012, according to ASA executive director Rod Radigonda, whom Spy interviewed on Friday.
There is a probable path in 2012 that begins at the UA World Cup, competes in the tournament planned for Canada, then goes to Whitehorse, BC, for the ISF world championship. ISF will field 16 teams in Whitehorse, sand Radigonda is in discussion with various national associations to persuade 10-12 of those international teams to compete in the 2012 World Cup in Oklahoma City. To accommodate the ISF schedule for Whitehorse, the USA World Cup will be held in July 2012.
In particular, Radigonda assigns high priority to the ongoing conversations with Canadian and European officials. Radigonda believes European participation is a key to expanding the brand internationally, and his goal is to have three European teams participate in the 2012 ASA World Cup. European involvement in international softball could be a critical factor when the IOC votes in2013 on which games to include in the 2020 Olympics.
To secure support for the USA World Cup, Radigonda will attend the 2011 European qualifier (for the 2012 ISF world championship) which will be held in Trieste. (Spy remembers Trieste fondly) Spy is particularly pleased that ASA and Canadian and European counterparts have an influential voice in international scheduling decisions.
Radigonda is confident of the quest, noting that ESPN coverage of the 2011 USA World Cup offers the potential of viewers in 147 countries. He also noted World Cup popularity at home; residents of 28 states attended the 2010 competition.
Radigonda also expressed strong support for youth travel ball, a foundation for the college and profeesional programs which follow. He was particularly proud of the 50,000 background checks performed in 2010 on travel ball personnel.