Two months ago, I was enjoying dinner at a sports themed restaurant with my family. I noticed a few of the TVs had a regular season college game on the screen. While commonplace now, I still get a thrill to witness a softball game on tv in a public place.
Today I sit, watching my 4th WCWS (Women’s College World Series) game of the day, and I am taken back to a time when we were lucky to see the Championship game in it’s entirety.
WCWS Ignites a Flame
Growing up and learning to pitch in the late 80s and early 90s, there were no televised college softball games. I don’t even think I knew there was such a thing as college softball. Then my dad, the night owl, up late one evening stumbled upon a pre-recorded college softball game. The game was not even shown live, and much was edited out due to network time constraints. Grrr!
He quickly popped in a VHS tape and recorded all he could. He showed this tape to me, and I couldn’t even process all I was seeing. There was this amazing pitcher by the name of Lisa Fernandez playing for a team called UCLA. That was my first taste of a WCWS, and the beginning of my dream to one day pitch in college.
NCAA WCWS Building Dreams Since 1982
Fast-forward a couple of decades later. Not only is every game of the WCWS aired live, but ESPN even has a “Selection Show” and airs the Regional and Super Regional games on 3 different stations. I almost feel sorry for other sports not getting much attention during this time of year. Then I think, “Nope, the sport deserves the spotlight for a change.”
The WCWS as we know it only been in existence since 1982. However, the ASA (Amateur Softball Association) and DGWS (Division of Girls’ and Women’s Sports) pioneered a collegiate softball championship prior to the NCAA. Therefore, a college softball championship has existed since 1969.
After Title IX legislation in 1972, the AIWA (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) hosted the college championship for many years. In 1982, there were TWO WCWS championships, one hosted by the AIWA, and the first ever hosted by the NCAA.
The WCWS has quite an interesting history, and every championship tells it’s own story. You can read about the history of the WCWS in the book – A Series of Their Own: The History of the Women’s College World Series. It chronicles each WCWS from 1969-2012, and includes inspiring stories from many athletes.
It’s important for the youth of the sport to understand how the sport has grown and changed over time. Developing an appreciation for the evolution of the sport will make players more passionate about their role in the sport today, and motivate them to give more effort in practices and games.
In addition to reading about the history, go see it first hand at the National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK. Maybe even take a tour in between games of the WCWS!
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