OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Former USA Softball head coach Mike Candrea has helped earn the U.S. Olympic Achievement award for the University of Arizona, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced today. The award, given by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), U.S. National Governing Bodies for Sport (NGBs) and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), honors the colleges and universities whose student-athletes and coaches who have won Olympic medals.
"For many Olympic sports, collegiate athletics programs are an integral part of the athlete developmental pipeline for Team USA," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "These awards acknowledge the critical role universities play in our continued Olympic success and the necessity of supporting Olympic sports at the collegiate level."
Candrea (Tucson, Ariz.) retired from his USA Softball coaching duties following the 2008 Olympic Games, where the team won a Silver Medal, but currently serves as USA Softball’s Director of Coaching Education. While serving USA Softball, Candrea has built the Arizona program into one of the premiere collegiate softball programs in the country. The Wildcats have won eight NCAA National Championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2007) under his direction.
"Whether it be his through legacy with the USA Softball program, or his tradition at the University of Arizona, Mike Candrea’s name has become synonymous with excellence," ASA Executive Director Ron Radigonda said. "We cannot thank him enough for what he brought to the USA Softball program, including an Olympic Gold Medal in Athens and the Silver Medal in Beijing. We also extend a 'thank you' to the University of Arizona for allowing Coach Candrea to contribute his talents to our program. The U.S. Olympic Achievement Award is a well deserved honor Coach Candrea and Arizona."
Candrea’s resume with the USA Softball National team dates back to being an assistant coach with the 1994 Women’s World Championship team that captured the Gold Medal. Since that time, Candrea has been involved with over ten Women’s National Teams while taking over the head coach reigns for the 2002 World Championship. During his tenure, Team USA captured two World Championship Gold Medals, two Pan-American Gold Medals, two World Cup titles, one Olympic Gold Medal and one Olympic Silver Medal.
Candrea is the 2004 USOC Coach of the Year award winner. Also in 2004, he was awarded with the USOC’s highest honor, the Olympic Shield award. An honor given in recognition for an individual’s outstanding service to the U.S. Olympic movement, Candrea was only the 45th person to receive this award since 1966. He was the first ever coach to receive the Olympic Shield.
A total of 43 institutions contributed to the USA's medal success at the last two Olympic Games, Beijing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010. Colleges and universities will be recognized based on two criteria: having a current student-athlete who was part of a medal-winning performance or a coach who was a credentialed member of the U.S. Olympic Team delegation and his/her athlete or team won a medal.
"This award is an important step to expand the recognition and appreciation from the U.S. Olympic movement back to the colleges and universities that help our country win medals," said Rich Bender, chairman of the NGB Council. "The dream of becoming a collegiate athlete is as real as that of aspiring to an Olympic medal. Collegiate sports are vital to the U.S. Olympic movement and represent the pinnacle of achievement for so many athletes beyond their Olympic success."
- Courtesy USA Softball