Craig Grau: A Dream Team's requiem - The Explorer: Sports

Craig Grau: A Dream Team's requiem

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Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:02 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

To what goal should a young maven of the softball diamond aspire?

The Olympic era of 12-inch cross-stitchery is headed Jurassic, jettisoned from the 2012 London Games, while badminton’s shuttlecocks survive among the baseboards, roach-like.

When the International Olympic Committee voted in 2005 to snuff softball, talk persisted that the American girls’ dominance painted them out of the international batter’s box.

After all, Mike Candrea’s squad outscored their prey 51-1 four years ago in Athens. And Team USA just bombed Venezuela 11-0 atop former Wildcat Jennie Finch’s pitching the other day.

You can practically hear the “Team America: World Police” theme play in Beijing, in encore.

Perhaps softballers can plead their case and restore their game back to the ticket in time for an American homecoming — as Chicago stands among the front-runners for the 2016 Games.

But at the moment, after this gold rush, the vein runs dry.

For ladies’ fast-pitch, the Olympics were the sport’s pinnacle; a peak to conquer after summiting the collegiate ranks, said Canyon Del Oro coach Amy Swiderski.

“Little boys can dream about playing in the big leagues,” Swiderski said. “Our (dream) was the Olympics. We’re going to have to do a lot of work to get our showcase back.”

With repeat state titles in hand and heads cocked in disappointment, the Lady Dorados are less than thrilled over the IOC’s smackdown, the coach said.

Swiderski’s happy with her own post, farming Division I and II scholarship athletes after riding her own talents to a college degree. The drive to carve a niche and succeed is the sort of benefit that sports offer to athletes of any stripe.

Having the world stage yanked out from under a youngster’s hopes, well, that just stings, though.

“It’s really disappointing that we don’t have a lot of opportunities past college,” Swiderski said.

Pro softball, where players average $4,700 for a three-month season, amounts to a nice summer gig for women who’ve moved on to coaching NCAA teams.

To retake medal play, the IOC’s likely going to look for the sport’s global growth.

But as youth leagues like Pusch Ridge Little League continue to decimate, kids over the water might just stick with soccer.

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Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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