USA Softball Women in Leadership

March 31, 2020, 2:12 p.m. (ET)

OKLAHOMA CITY –– USA Softball, a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization, seeks to provide opportunities for people of all ages and all levels to be involved in the sport. With a mission to provide opportunities for participation and the best possible experience for those involved, USA Softball allows former players, coaches, umpires, or aspiring fans to continue their passion for the sport through various leadership roles.

 

Among the leadership opportunities USA Softball offers, Natalie Norman (USA Softball of Alabama), Kristy Rich (USA Softball of Missouri), Anna Louie (USA Softball of San Francisco), and Beverly Wiley (USA Softball of Rhode Island) have each stepped into the role of Local Association Commissioner, a role that plays a crucial part to the improved development of our sport.

 

   

Pictured L–R: Natalie Norman, Kristy Rich, Anna Louie, Beverly Wiley

 

“As non-profits, we are here to serve the sport of softball and that’s exactly what drew me to the position of State Commissioner,” said USA Softball of Alabama Commissioner, Natalie Norman. “I saw an opportunity to build our sport in the state of Alabama and wanted to take the reins and develop a good staff that would have the leadership to provide our participants with what they needed to excel in the sport.”

 

Norman became involved with USA Softball in 1989 while she was working for the City of Montgomery Parks & Recreation department. Since then, she has led 30 USA Softball National Championships as Tournament Director and is currently in her fourth year as USA Softball of Alabama Commissioner where she continues to ensure participants get the top-quality experience they deserve.

 

“The game of softball and what it does for our youth and adult programs as far as wellness, both physically and mentally, and the teamwork and sportsmanship it teaches has made my role as Commissioner feel like an absolute privilege,” said Norman. “To be able to be a part of providing those opportunities for athletes in Alabama is truly so special to me.”

 

Joining Norman in a female Commissioner role is USA Softball of Missouri Commissioner Kristy Rich. Rich garners a long history in the sport of softball, starting as a young player before working her way to Junior Olympic Commissioner in 2005 and State Commissioner in 2020. During her involvement with USA Softball, Rich has had the opportunity to travel to the 2008 Olympic Games, Border Battle, and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Coed Slow Pitch World Cup.

 

“USA Softball has given me so much,” said Rich. “It’s allowed me to travel places I probably never would’ve been able to go while most importantly giving me something I could use my passion of softball for after my playing days were over.”

 

Rich first joined USA Softball after experiencing a knee injury that ended her playing career, forcing her to seek additional ways to shareher passion for softball. She quickly found USA Softball as a way for her to stay active in the sport and hopes to be an example for females in similar positions.

 

“We definitely need more females in these larger roles,” said Rich. “Not only are they vital to continue growing our program, but they’re a huge factor in showing younger girls that females have the ability to lead and grow the game in a significant way.”

 

In addition to Norman and Rich, Anna Louie leads USA Softball of San Francisco as Commissioner with a driving passion to improve the involvement of our sport each year –– starting with her family. Her husband serves as the Region 10 Umpire-in-Chief (UIC) while her sons and grandsons are also active umpires. “My family is obviously very active in our sport and in addition to ourselves, we’re always trying to get other people out there because our sport needs it,” said Louie.

 

Louie first joined USA Softball as a slow pitch player with a playing career that spanned 33 years. In addition to her time spent on the field as an athlete, Louie also spent many years as an umpire, which was fueled by a comment she says she’ll never forget –– “girls can’t do that.”

 

“We, as females, have always had to prove ourselves,” said Louie. “But for me, I like a challenge.” 

 

In addition to Louie’s self-motivation, her brother also played an instrumental role in her becoming an umpire, saying “come on, let’s both do it and become umpires together.” Being an umpire not only enabled Louie to break barriers as a female umpire, but it also allowed her and her brother to spend time together on the field for many years, a memory she says she will always cherish. After her brother's passing in 2017, Louie says it is because of him that her journey in softball is so significant. 

 

Determined to continue proving herself, Louie went on to umpire multiple Class A slow pitch and fast pitch tournaments before advancing into various USA Softball leadership roles including Deputy Commissioner, Local Association Commissioner and Regional Director. All of those roles ultimately led to a position on the USA Softball Board of Directors as Regional Vice President.

 

“Women have a great chance with USA Softball to accelerate themselves in our sport,” said Louie. “If they just have a good attitude, listen, learn, and prove themselves, they will do great.”

 

USA Softball of Rhode Island Commissioner Beverly Wiley caps the USA Softball female leadership role as the fourth Commissioner position held by a woman. A recipient of the 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement Award, Wiley has been recognized as a woman whose accomplishments span the fields of industry, culture, and public service. Her achievements on the local, national and international level span decades, from working as the Athletics Compliance Officer for the Community College of Rhode Island (CCR) to serving a variety of roles for USA Softball.

 

Wiley first became involved with USA Softball as a fast pitch and slow pitch player with a playing career that began in the late 1960s. Following her time spent on the field as an athlete, Wiley extended her involvement with USA Softball by becoming a slow pitch coach while also coaching at CCR for 10 years. In addition to playing and coaching, Wiley also spent 12 years as an umpire before stepping into the role of Women’s Commissioner at Rhode Island. Wiley then continued to advance in leadership roles, taking the reins of State Commissioner in 1992.

 

During her 27 years as USA Softball of Rhode Island Commissioner, Wiley has worked tirelessly to improve gender equity by spending a large amount of her free time creating opportunities for women to lead in athletics.

 

“Softball is strong in the women’s sports arena at the collegiate level and at the national and international level, yet females aren’t representing in the leadership positions,” said Wiley in an interview following her YWCA Women of Achievement award.

 

Wiley was hesitant to apply for the USA Softball of Rhode Island Commissioner position due to the number of men in line for the job, but said she remembers thinking to herself, “I’m always encouraging women to get involved, so I should throw my hat in the ring.” With no expectations to be selected, Wiley took a chance and has since worked her way to additional leadership roles including USA Softball Northeast Regional Vice President and serving on the Women’s National Team Selection Committee.

 

“My goal has always been to make a difference and to be a role model to young people, especially women and girls, but all young people,” Wiley noted in her Women of Achievement interview. “I’ve had opportunities in my life, and I want to make sure I pay it forward and provide the opportunity for others as well.”

 

USA Softball is proud to have the guidance of these four women and strongly encourages anyone with a passion for the sport to reach out to your local association and get involved.

 

“We need different, fresh and new ideas to keep the organization moving forward. Reach out, express your interest, or volunteer if a position isn’t available,” advised Commissioner Norman. “USA Softball local associations welcome volunteers all the time and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door of furthering our sport. I would definitely encourage and motivate any female that loves the game of softball, and wants to see it grow, to take a risk and join the USA Softball organization.”