The United States Olympic Committee presented its most prestigious award, the Olympic Shield, on Wednesday, January 5 to 2004 USA Softball Olympic team head coach Mike Candrea. (Casa Grande, Ariz.)

An honor given in recognition for an individual’s outstanding service to the United States Olympic Committee and the Olympic movement, Candrea is only the 45th person to receive this award since 1966. The first ever Olympic coach in the award’s 39 year history, this honor has only been awarded on 12 occasions since its inception. 

Mike Candrea led the 2004 USA Softball team to one of the most prolific team performances in Olympic history. Persevering and battling during adverse times is just one of the many lessons taught both on and off the field by Candrea. 

When he was selected to be the 2004 Olympic coach in May of 2002, Candrea set one goal and he accomplished it. Echoing numerous times of his will to ‘not just win, but to dominate,’ Coach Candrea led his team to its third consecutive gold medal and the cover of Sports Illustrated as ‘The Real Dream Team.’ One of the most dominating performances in Olympic history, he led the Red, White and Blue to a 9-0 record outscoring opponents 51-1. 

Prior to the Games, Candrea and crew led his team across the nation in a 53- game ‘Aiming for Athens’ pre-Olympic tour where they finished undefeated while visiting approximately 30 U.S. cities. 

But among all the glory and victories, there is one thing Mike Candrea taught the 2004 team that means more than a gold medal. On July 18, Mike lost his wife Sue unexpectedly while traveling during the ‘Aiming for Athens’ tour. A sudden and tragic loss just ten days before leaving for Athens, Coach Candrea faced the toughest moments of his life. Arriving in Greece a few short days after the team, his unbelievable strength and poise guided the team to victory. He stressed to each one of them the importance of cherishing every moment and that this USA Softball family is the reason he continued to pursue Sue’s dream for him to coach in the Olympic Games. 

Led by his courage and words, he was very open with the team upon his arrival in Athens – “I don’t want you to play for me or Sue during these Olympics, I want you to play for your country.” 

Standing as a pillar of strength and feeding from the support of the 18 players and coaches surrounding him, Candrea led his team into the competition and to its third consecutive gold medal. 

Following the triumphant victory, members of the U.S. team hoisted Coach Candrea upon their shoulders and carried him off the field. A flood of emotions, it was evident the impact this coach has made and will continue to make to so many lives. 

This award is given in recognition of outstanding service to the United States Olympic Committee 

1966 -- H. Jamison Swarts, USOC Executive Board member 
1966 -- Thomas F. Lennon, Assistant Secretary for delegation to 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games 
1966 -- Daniel J. Ferris, USOC Executive Board member 
1966 -- James F. Simms 
1969 -- Dr. Harry F. "Mickey" McPhee, Head physician at two Olympic Games 
1969 -- Pincus Sober, USOC Executive Board member 
1969 -- Albert Wheltle, Active in USOC for 20 years 
1969 -- J. Lyman Bingham, USOC Executive Director (1950 65) 
1969 -- Dr. Merritt Stiles, USOC Officer 
1969 -- *Charles L. Ornstein, Active in USOC for 40 years 
1969 -- Hon. Jeremiah T. Mahoney, USOC Executive Board member 
1973 -- Lt. Gen. Henry W. Buse Jr., USOC Officer 
1973 -- Hermann G. Rusch, Long time food director at Olympic Games 
1981 -- Charles W. Buek, Investment Committee chair (1973 81) 
1981 -- E. Newbold Black IV, USOC Officer 
1981 -- Tenley Albright, USOC Officer 
1981 -- Joel Ferrell Jr., USOC Officer 
1983 -- Sen. Ted Stevens, Involved with Amateur Sports Act of 1978 
1983 -- Patrick Sullivan, USOC Counselor 
1983 -- George M. Wilson, USOC Executive Board member 
1983 -- Edward H. Mosler Jr. 
1985 -- William E. Simon, USOC President (1981-85) 
1985 -- Harold "Hal" Henning, USOC Executive Board member 
1985 -- Lawrence Hough, USOC Officer 
1989 -- Andras Toro, USOC Officer 
1989 -- Stephen B. Sobel, USOC Officer 
1989 -- Evie G. Dennis, USOC Officer 
1989 -- Howard C. Miller, USOC Officer 
1989 -- Rudolph Sablo, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Col. Don Hull, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Richard Hollander, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Stephen Lieberman, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Daniel Steinman, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Russell C. Dermond, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Matthew Cusack, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- Lt. Gen. A.P. Clark, USOC Executive Board member 
1989 -- J. William Middendorf II, USOC Executive Board member 
1990 -- Robert Sheppard, USOC Executive Board member 
1990 -- Baaron Pittenger, USOC Executive Director 
1996 -- Dr. Joe Kearney, Chair, USOC Games Preparation and Services Committee/Board of Directors member 
1996 -- Dr. Alpha Alexander, USOC Member Services subcommittee chair/Board of Directors member 
1997 -- Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, counselor to President Bill Clinton; vice chair of the White House Task Force on the 1996 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games 
1997 -- Greg Harney, Director of USOC International Games Preparation Division 
2004 -- Bill Martin, Acting USOC President 
2005 – Mike Candrea, 2004 Olympic Women’s Softball Coach – Gold Medal

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