XVI Women's Softball World Championship

2018-08-02 - 2018-08-12

@wbsc   #WorldSoftball   Chiba, JPN

XVI Women's Softball World Championship - Official Payoff

USA Softball Star Monica Abbott “Softball brings people together, it belongs in the Olympics”

2018-08-06

After winning two World Championships (2006 Beijing, China, 2010 Caracas, Venezuela) and the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Monica Abbot stepped down from the US Softball National Team. As ESPN website put it: “to try to fill the Olympic void with a sustainable domestic outlet for players to continue competing professionally beyond college.”

Abbott was the youngest player on the US team that lost the gold medal game against Japan during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. In Beijing, USA were three-time defending champions.

After that silver medal, Monica Abbot’s career thrived. She was a stand out in college where she played for the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, but her performances in the US National Pro Fastpitch (she won league titles with three different franchises: Washington Glory, Chicago Bandits and Scrap Yard Dawgs) and in the Japanese League (Toyota Motor Corporation) made fans identify Monica as “the best pitcher in the world”.

On Friday 3 August 2018 at the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, Monica pitched six shut out innings against Mexico to make her comeback with the USA National Team.

“I think I had a support group that helped me get comfortable and allowed me to show on the field,” she told Japanese reporters at the end of the game “Mexico is pretty good. I was just focused on doing a good job for the team.”

Abbott made it clear that the sole goal of the 2018 USA National Team campaign is to qualify for Tokyo 2020 where softball will be making its spectacular Olympic comeback:

“There will be only six teams and there are only five spots available. It will be a challenge: softball has improved a lot since 2008, there are much better teams.”

What made you decide you had to come back?

“I had a lot of people asking me to come back. And of course, there’s Tokyo 2020. I played in Beijing and I believe in the Olympics, I believe in what they stand for.

“For softball, the Olympics are the highest stage possible. I want to be there to help make a statement. Softball deserves to be in the Olympics. Not only in 2020, but also in 2024, 2028 and beyond. In Tokyo we need to put on a good show, to help that happen.”

What’s your definition of ‘Olympic Dream’?

“To me, the Olympics are amazing athletics. It’s uniting the world through sports. And softball has always brought people and countries together. This is one of the reasons why we belong in the Olympics.”

 

The IOC headquarters are based in Switzerland. How do you feel the sport is growing in Europe?

“Europe may be a weakness because people don’t grow up playing the game. But there are great softball countries like Italy, The Netherlands, Czech Republic. I see also England is here at the WBSC World Championship, which is great. But Europe can also be a strength, because we can impress the people who live there, show them what great entertainment comes from baseball and softball. We need to bring to Europe great events.”

You played as the youngest USA player in 2008, you are in your thirties now and most of the players on this National Team are ten years your junior.

“It will be interesting. We will have to melt my experience with the different attitude of a younger generation of players.”

In May 2016, the Scrap Yard Dawgs, National Pro Fastpitch team, now an independent team, signed Abbott to a six-year contract, believed to be worth $1 million; the contract is thought to be the most lucrative ever paid by an individual American professional franchise to an active female athlete in any team sport.

Does it irritate you that people keep talking about your huge contract?

“Not really. I believe my contract shows the value that there is in softball”.

Touching again on softball’s Olympic return, Abbot discusses how softball can improve its offering to the Games:

“We need to attract crowds and improve relationships with fans and the media. We can do it creating excitement on the field, through social media, interacting with fans, marketing campaigns…. whatever it takes.”

 

Monica Cecilia Abbott was born on 28 July, 1985 in Santa Cruz, California, USA.