The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 10, 2013

Players want an Olympic choice

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

When it was an Olympic sport, USA Softball was a year-round program with a year-round training budget, stipends for players that allowed them to stay in training and significantly greater corporate sponsorship.

Now it’s a summer program.

“We’ve done a great job with what we’ve had to work with,” Eriksen said. “And college players are going to be exposed to greater competition earlier. But it doesn’t lend itself toward training.”

The truth is, were it an Olympic sport, the national team might not have as strong an Oklahoma presence and certainly wouldn’t have near the collegiate presence.

Before, the college players were filling USA Softball’s developmental rosters. Now they’re the national team.

It’s hard to imagine a slugger like OU’s Lauren Chamberlain having to wait her turn to do anything, but that might have been her destiny had her game remained a part of the Games.

It’s an interesting deal.

If the vote goes the way of the diamond sports, they would return to the 2020 Olympics, when most players on the current national team roster would be in their late 20s.

The team that opens play at the World Cup of Softball VIII Thursday night at Hall of Fame Stadium might look a whole lot like the 2020 Olympic team. You know, if there is a 2020 Olympic team and the players choose to stick with the game.

Aimee Creger, the best pitcher ever to come out of Tulsa, who’s bound to see more time in the circle this summer since Keilani Ricketts left the team in a lurch with her sudden departure, doesn’t know what she would do if softball was picked back up as an Olympic sport.

“It’s a hard decision,” she said. “We’ve all talked about it … It’s a tough decision.”

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