The selections represent some of the most successful coaches in the game. They include Candrea; Ken Eriksen of South Florida, Patti Gasso of Oklahoma, Michele Gromacki of Cal State Fullerton, Karen Johns of Florida, Eugene Lenti of DePaul, Jay Miller of Missouri, Pat Murphy of Alabama, John Rittman of Stanford, Kirk Walker of Oregon State, Linda Wells of Arizona State and Teresa Wilson of Washington.
The 12 coaches will participate in the USA Softball National Team Camp May 30-June 3 in Chula Vista, Calif., and will be eligible for selection to such important coaching assignments as the 2001 U.S. Cup in Hawaii, 2001 Canada Cup in Vancouver, the 2002 ISF Women's World Championship in Canada, the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Candrea and Gasso each have won NCAA Championships. Candrea's teams won it in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997 while Gasso's Sooners won the title last season. Wilson has won two Pac-10 titles and her teams have twice played in the Women's College World Series title game as well as two appearances in the national semifinals.
Candrea said the U.S. Olympic Team coach will be selected in September.
"I'm very honored to be selected in a pool that includes some very fine coaches. It's always an honor to represent the United States," he said, but added that the appointment brings some added pressure.
"Everyone in the pool has to consider how they'll be able to do a good job with their own team and a good job with the U.S. Team, because you have to take a leave of absence during the Olympic year. I think we'd all be faced with the decision whether we could get it done."
Candrea, a three-time National Coach of the Year award winner, was a coach on the United States' participation in the 1994 World Championships. He is considered by most in the profession as the top hitting instructor in the country. For the past 15 year he has developed the University of Arizona into one of the top collegiate softball programs in the nation. His Division I winning percentage is No. 1 among active coaches and No. 2 all-time.
Under Candrea, the Wildcats have posted numbers that are unmatched by most college programs in the country -- the five NCAA Championships, five Pac-10 Championships (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998) and a 1990s record of 523-75, a winning percentage of .875.
For seven consecutive years, at least three of Candrea's players earned All-America honors in voting by the coaches association. Four times it has been six players - the only times that many players have been picked. In 1994, 1995 and 1998 the six selections were all first-team All-Americans.
Although winning is synonymous with Candrea, one of his strongest beliefs is that winning, coaching and teaching softball are things to be shared. He's helped revolutionize the game in recent years by encouraging collegiate coaches to share tips and work together to improve their skill-teaching efforts.