Aug. 6, 2012
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
I imagine Michigan assistant softball coach Jennifer Brundage has turned back the clock and revisited her memories of winning a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics over the last week. There is also a good chance she is wondering 'what if' for Jordan Taylor and Amanda Chidester.
What if softball were still an Olympic sport? Could these two Wolverine alums have been realizing their dream of playing in the Olympic Games?
Instead, the two former Wolverine All-Americans found themselves playing on the USA National Team in Oklahoma City for the World Cup and then again for the World Softball Championship in the Yukon Territory this summer.
On July 3, Taylor was one of three pitchers to combine on a one-hit shutout to help Team USA defeat Australia, 3-0, to win the World Cup of Softball championship.
A few days before the 2012 London Olympics started, Chidester gave the USA its first hit in the Women's World Softball Championship final, a game Japan won in an extra-innings thriller, 2-1.
While all three young women grew up dreaming of competing in the Olympics, the irony is Taylor and Chidester believed it would be softball. Brundage never thought of softball as her Olympic sport.
Brundage, who played softball for UCLA, made two USA Olympic softball teams. She was an alternate for the 1996 team in Atlanta and then in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she started at third base in the first game of Team USA's gold medal run.
However, when Brundage first started dreaming of being an Olympian after watching the 1984 Los Angeles Games, softball wasn't an Olympic sport. She told her family she would throw the javelin for the United States.
Today, once again, softball is not an Olympic sport.
The last Olympic softball game played was the gold-medal contest in Beijing four years ago with Japan upsetting the USA, 3-1.
In 2005, both softball and baseball were dropped as Olympic sports. For softball, a simple majority of the 105 votes would have kept the sport in the Olympics. Unfortunately, the final vote was 52 to 52 with one abstention.
Many individuals feel the sport would have remained if the vote would have been taken after the Beijing games. After all, the IOC stated, too few countries played the sport while others believe it was USA's softball dominance that soured the committee. Japan's gold medal win might have helped softball get that one extra vote.
That one vote meant so much to the sport and for so many softball players.
U-M has a great softball tradition, and if softball were a sport for the 2012 London Games, the names of Nikki Nemitz, Samantha Findlay, Angela Findlay, Roya St. Clair and Dorian Shaw could have been in the mix for tryouts and potential spots on an Olympic team. Now only Nemitz is currently playing competitive softball in the summer pro league.
Add other outstanding players from all across the country into the mix and one never knows who would have made an Olympic team.
Taylor and Chidester are two of the most recent who had the Olympic dream when they were young. Those playing softball today have to dream about another sport if they want to compete on the world's biggest stage.
The sport of softball is teaming up with baseball to see if the two sports can return to the Olympic stage in 2020.
Brundage for one understands what it means to be part of the Olympics and represent one's country. She tweeted recently that the 2000 Olympic opening ceremonies were one of the greatest moments of her life.
Softball's (and baseball's) return to the Olympics could easily be another opportunity for a future Wolverine to represent their country, family and our school.
It will also allow softball players to once again dream about the Olympics, making the games even more fun for everyone.
Congratulations to Jordan and Amanda on their recent summer softball success with the USA National Team!