February 15, 2015 marks the first time that two Olympic softball gold medalist head coaches went head-to-head in the sport of fastpitch college softball. Dot Richardson (1996 & 2000) and Danielle Henderson (2000), former teammates in red-white-and-blue donned the same colors with new names at Sunday’s closing game of the Dot Richardson National Collegiate Softball Invitational in Clermont, Florida.
ESPN wasn’t here to document it. Local media didn’t make a big deal about it. But at Legends Way, these legends really made a powerful statement. It really made no difference who won (though Dr. Dot will be the first to tell you it was her Liberty Flames who shut out the UMass Lowell River Hawks!), because at the end of the day it was the softball players led by these incredible women who got to experience what it was like to play for – and against – the best of the best in the world of softball.
The sun was out, the air was crisp and cool, and the sky a beautiful pale blue for the game but everyone could feel the pressure at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont, Florida. The Lady Flames were coming off a win against SEC’s Arkansas the night before and it is no secret that Coach Richardson was hired with the specific goal of taking Liberty’s college softball team to the NCAA Women’s College World Series.
Coach Henderson told us before the game “if Dot coaches like she played, we can expect a lot of energy and fight from her team. I am looking forward to playing against her because competitions like that provide a great building block for a team.” This “iron sharpens iron” approach to the college softball game will surely take the River Hawks to the next level. Not only did Coach Henderson accept the challenge of taking on the legendary Dot Richardson, but she gladly accepted the challenge of playing Top-20 ranked University of Minnesota in her first of two games of the day.
If that doesn’t inspire you to work harder toward your softball goals, we don’t know what does!
For sure, we were inspired watching these softball champions take each other on while leading the next generation of girls to greatness. Whether they follow in their coaches’ footsteps or pursue other ventures after college softball, one thing is certain: the young women who have the opportunity to learn from Coach Richardson and Coach Henderson will experience first hand the mind-set it takes to both see – and make – change in the sport of fastpitch softball and in life.
We are looking forward to watching what the Flames and Red Hawks do in the next couple years . . . good luck to both softball teams on the field and off!