Sept. 16, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY - Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, the head coach of the USA National Team, has been named as a top five finalist for the U.S. Olympic Committee National Coach of the Year Award.
The award will be presented during ceremonies Oct. 17 dinner at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Convention Center.
Candrea, in his first year as the USA Softball head coach, is the only summer sport finalist among the five. He also becomes just the second softball coach to be named to the top five. Olympic head coach Ralph Raymond was named as a finalist in 2000 after leading the USA to gold at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Other finalists are Ryan Davenport, skeleton; Peter Del'Giudice, snowboard; Wolfgang Schadler, luge; and Robin Wagner, figure skating.
"It's a great honor to be recognized for this award," said Candrea. "It's a tribute to our athletes and the way they competed this summer. Any coaching honor goes hand in hand with the success of the team, and our young ladies did a fantastic job this year."
In a year that most thought would be a transition year for USA Softball, Candrea made his mark on the USA program. With only six returning players from the 2000 Olympic Games gold medalist team and 11 players who never had competed in a major international competition, Candrea led the USA Women s National Team to international gold medals at the U.S. Cup, Canada Cup, Japan Cup and the World Championships. Along with the World Championship title, which was the team's fifth straight, the victory at the prestigious tournament also secured the United State the No. 1 seed for the 2004 Olympic Games
For the summer the USA squad compiled a record of 30-2 (.937) and outscored its opponents 186-30. During the world championships the USA extended its unbeaten streak in round-robin competitions to 64-games. Its last World Championship round-robin loss came Aug. 15, 1970, against the Philippines.
"Success at the elite level is the result of many factors -- genetic talent, years of hard work and dedication, and great coaching," said Dr. Peter G. Davis, USOC Director of Coaching and Sport Sciences. "Behind every successful elite athlete is a series of great coaches; from the first coach who taught the basics and made it fun, to the high school and college coaches who start to refine the skills and techniques, to the national coach who guides the athletes through international competition," he said.