The United States Olympic Committee recently announced Mike Candrea (Casa Grande, Ariz.), who coached the 2004 USA Softball Women's National Team to its third consecutive Olympic gold medal in Athens, Greece, as the 2004 United States Olympic Committee National Coach of the Year.  

“This is an incredible honor to receive from the USOC,” said Coach Candrea.  “But the credit belongs to the players.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of each one of them for their efforts during 2004.  They were a great group of core athletes who were truly a pleasure to coach throughout the year.  To be a part of this team and USA Softball is quite an honor.” 

Coach Candrea led the 2004 USA Softball Women’s National team to its third consecutive Olympic gold medal with a perfect 9-0 run.  Noted as one of the most dominant Olympic performances in history, the team consisted of 15 athletes; four two-time gold medalists, two one-time gold medalists, and nine rookies.  Outscoring opponents 51-1, the U.S. broke 18-Olympic records during their run to the gold.  Prior to the Games, Team USA traveled the country on a 53-game tour where they finished undefeated extending the pre-Olympic tour win streak to 167 dating back to May 3, 1996. 

“Mike brings a confidence to the USA Softball program that is contagious,” said ASA/USA Softball Executive Director Ron Radigonda.  “His coaching knowledge is unmatched in the sport. His leadership was an integral part of our success in Athens and it’s nice to see him recognized for those accomplishments.” 

Dwayne Miller (Norfolk, Va./track & field), Barry Hunter (Ft. Washington, Md./boxing) and Mike Hulett (Des Plaines, Ill./sitting volleyball) were also selected as the 2004 USOC Developmental, Volunteer and National Paralympic coaches, respectively.  Also honored during the May 1 Coach of the Year Recognition Banquet at the Home Depot Center in Carson was track & field's Joe Vigil (Green Valley, Ariz.), who received the "Doc" Counsilman Science Award. 

National Coach of the Year finalists April Heinrichs (Gainesville, Va./U.S. Soccer), Yevgeny Marchenko (Plano, Texas/ USA Gymnastics), Eddie Reese (Austin, Texas/USA Swimming) and Dane Selznick (El Segundo, Calif./USA Volleyball) as well as  Development Coach of the Year finalists Desmond Dickie (Toronto, Canada/USA Cycling), Pamela Gregory (Newark, Del./U.S. Figure Skating), Renee Hildebrand (Belleview, Fla./USA Roller Sports) and Drew Johansen (Columbus, Ohio/USA Diving) were also recognized during the May 1 event for their contributions to sport. 

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