USA Softball mourns the loss of Ronnie Isham

Ronnie Isham (Stephenville, Texas), who served USA Softball through a variety of roles for over 35 years, passed away on Monday, December 3. He was 75.

 

“Ronnie Isham, both as an administrator within our grassroots program and as the Director of National Teams for USA Softball, served our organization for over 35 years,” said USA Softball Executive Director, Craig Cress.  “He fought for what he believed in and there was never a doubt that he was committed to the growth and development of our National Team Programs.  He will be missed by the hundreds of athletes and staff who have had the honor of working with him.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Gaytha, as well as his entire family and friends from all across the world during this difficult time.”

 

Manager, Player, At-Large Player Representative, Team Leader, Commissioner, and Director of National Teams are just some of the positions Isham held with USA Softball.    

 

Beginning his career as a manager, Isham led teams to several Regional Championships while making seven USA Softball Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship Finals.  Isham got his first taste of international play as early as 1978 when the then-International Softball Federation (ISF) President asked him to form a men's fast pitch team to represent the USA in a tour of South Africa. Isham and his team spent 30 days traveling across South Africa in an effort to promote the sport of men's fast pitch softball.

 

Isham joined the USA Softball administrative ranks by serving as the District 12 Commissioner for USA Softball of Texas before being appointed the At-Large Player Rep for the association in 1986. 

 

Six years later, Isham’s service to the National Team Program began as he was appointed to the first-ever Women’s National Team Selection Committee that selected the inaugural U.S. Olympic Softball team.  That team would go on to win the Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympic Games and brought the sport of fast pitch softball national attention with its efforts.

 

Isham was selected as the USA Softball National Team Leader for several National Teams, including the 1996 Olympic Team. His first assignment came in 1991 with the Junior Men's National Team that competed in the then-ISF World Championships in New Zealand. Isham also served on a selection committee that chose the players that would make up the Junior Men's National Team for that tournament.

 

From 1992-2001 as a member of the Women’s National Team Selection Committee, Isham was involved in selecting multiple USA Softball Women’s National Teams, including the 1994 and 1998 World Championship Teams that captured Gold; 1995 and 1999 Pan Am Gold Medal teams and the 2000 Olympic Gold Medal Team.

 

In September of 2001, Isham was appointed as the National Teams Director and served in that role until December of 2017.  During his tenure as National Teams Director, the USA Softball Women's National Team Program went on to become one of the most dominating teams in international softball history.  An Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 and Silver in 2008, three Women's World Championship Gold Medals and three Pan American Games Gold Medals are among the highlights of the Women's National Team.  On the Men's side, a Pan American Games Silver Medal and a World Championship Bronze are a few of the legacies he leaves behind.

 

"Ronnie was truly a dedicated softball professional that was involved in every aspect of the game,"  said former USA Softball Executive Director, Ron Radigonda.  He had an outstanding career in the Parks and Recreation Field and working with USA Softball of Texas.  He was instrumental in selecting the 1996 and 2000 Women’s Olympic Softball Teams that captured the Gold in Atlanta and Sydney.  He then made his way to the National Office and guided the USA Softball Men’s and Women’s National Teams to many accomplishments including a Gold Medal at the Athens Olympic Games and a Silver at the Beijing Olympic Games. Ronnie was affectionately known as 'Bear' by everyone he worked with and his friends. He gave so much to the sport of softball in so many ways and he will be missed but always remembered for his contributions and his friendship.

 

Although Isham was involved with USA Softball for decades, he was actively involved with his local community and the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF). Isham has served as a TAAF president (1989-1991) and is one of only 19 individuals in 75 years to receive the Koger Stokes Award, the association’s highest honor, which he received in 1997. In 2002, Isham was named a Life Member of TAAF.  He served as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Stephenville and later as Director of Community Services from 1964 until his retirement in 2001.

 

As The Flash Today stated in their recent article of Isham, "If you have ever enjoyed time at the Stephenville City Park, you’ve been introduced to the work of Isham whose vision brought about many of the facilities and services available today.”

 

Isham will be deeply missed throughout the ranks of USA Softball and the international softball world.