The vote is in. Softball has been added back into the Olympics for Tokyo in 2020. And its about time!
When I was in third grade, I did an "About Me" project in class. One of the questions asked was what I wanted to do when I was older. I said that I wanted to "be a member of the USA team." Growing up, I got to see players like Stacey Nuveman, Laura Berg, Jennie Finch, Kelly Kretchman, Jessica Mendoza, etc. rep the colors and play for all of us watching from home and dreaming of one day being in their shoes. Fortunately, that goal of being a USA team member came true in high school starting with the Junior National Team, and then being named to the Women's National Team in 2013, my sophomore year of college. There is a very special feeling that accompanies wearing USA across your chest and representing your entire country in your given sport. I will never take that time for granted, and I cherish the relationships and experiences that those years gave me.
The last time softball was in the Olympic games was in 2008 in Beijing. Since then, the world of softball has not been able to watch and support a team of softball players in their pursuit of a gold medal. The biggest stage in the world was not hosting our sport, despite the incredible athletes that deserved to be on the stage. But now, in 2016, softball players around the world can see the light. Four years from now, in 2020, the best of the best softball players in the U.S. and around the world will be selected to their given teams and allowed the opportunity to play on the world's largest platform. Their talent and athleticism will finally be on display for the human race to watch. This means more sponsors, which means more funding. Softball will get the attention that it has always deserved, and the sport and its players can dream THE dream once again.
I am so proud to be a part of the softball community. I am thankful for those that pushed and worked tirelessly to get us back into the Olympics. I know how much this means to me, and how much it means to the many players, coaches, teammates, mentors, family members that I have met and experienced my career with along the way. Little girls everywhere can make the Olympic stage a promise land, and set personal goals to become a softball player that represents their country. THIS IS AMAZING.
What a great feat for the softball world. Celebrate this and set those goals!