USA Softball

The Red, the White and the Blue...TEAM USA

History of the USA Softball National Team Program

When USA Softball sent its first team to compete in the first WBSC Women’s World Championship in 1965, it was its baptismal in national team play for all practical purposes.

Never before had a team from the United States competed in an international event of this caliber. The Raybestos Brakettes of Stratford, Conn., represented the U.S. after winning the Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship in 1964. The Brakettes captured the silver medal with a record of 8-3 but it was what they did following the World Championships that helped grow the sport internationally.

Following the World Championships, the Brakettes embarked on a whirlwind tour that covered 10 countries in 37 days, where the players and coaches worked as ambassadors of the sport, holding instructional clinics in hopes of spreading the sport of softball across the globe.

USA Softball sent its first Men’s National Team to a World Championship in 1966 as the WBSC hosted its inaugural championship in Mexico City, Mexico. The Sealmasters of Aurora, Ill., who won the Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship in 1966 to earn the right to represent the United States, captured the first ever gold medal for the United States in any fast pitch world championship with a perfect 11-0 record.

Only the winners of the Men’s and Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Championships were allowed to represent the United States at international events until 1986 when USA Softball went to an All-Star format that allowed teams to add three additional players to their rosters that did not compete in USA Softball National Championships. This change proved to be successful for the United States as the Raybestos Brakettes captured the 1986 WBSC Women’s World Championship with a perfect 13-0 record.
By 1990, USA Softball had followed most other countries in selecting an All-Star team to represent the United States in World Championship competition. This practice had been common place among other countries but USA Softball had always sent the National Champion in the major division of the USA Softball National Championship as their entry into all previous World Championship.

On June 13, 1991 shock waves were sent through the softball community as the International Olympic Committee announced the inclusion of the sport on the Olympic program at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. This announcement meant the sport of softball would finally be showcased to the world and had finally found its place among the other elite sports.

USA Softball had campaigned harder than any other country for the honor of being included in the Olympics and now it was time to make the most of the opportunity. It was not enough for softball to be on the program, the charge of USA Softball would be to first earn a spot into the Olympics as one of the top eight teams and then to not only win, but win big in the Olympics.

It was a responsibility that officials at USA Softball took very seriously. First on the list was the establishment of a national coaching pool and a National Team Selection Committee. USA Softball officials believed that in the process of fielding the best players in the land, they must insure that those players would be mentored by the best coaches in the sport.

Pivotal to the success of the program was the establishment of the USA Softball National Team Selection Committee. This committee was charged with the difficult and sometimes unpopular task of making the final cuts for the team that would represent the USA at every international competition leading up to the Olympic Games and ultimately deciding who would be on the final Olympic roster as well.

The concept worked to perfection as the United States captured the first ever Gold Medal in the Olympic Games with a 3-0 win over China in the finals of the 1996 Olympics. From there, the U.S. would go on to win the next two Olympic Gold Medals (2000, 2004) while claiming an Olympic Silver Medal in 2008.

In 2006, during the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy the sport of softball was dealt a huge disappointment as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to remove the sport of softball and baseball from the Olympic program in 2012. This decision was a shock to the softball community world wide.The shock was felt again in 2009 when the IOC upheld their decision to exclude softball from the 2016 games as well. The fate of Olympic Softball was again in the hands of the IOC in September of 2013, when they would vote whether or not to reinstate the sport for the 2020 Games. The IOC upheld their decision again in 2013, but hope was not lost as Tokyo, Japan (a country that thrives with softball and baseball) was selected to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

The hopes and dreams of millions of softball athletes around the globe was answered on August 3, 2016 when the IOC voted to approve the addition of five new sports, including softball/baseball, to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The decision, which came after the IOC met in Rio de Janeiro, was made possible after the groundbreaking Olympic Agenda 2020, which provides flexibility for the future of the Olympic Movement to encourage innovation in the Olympic program.