USA softball was last sighted this past summer in an unfamiliar position ‘-‘- limping off the field in defeat, after dropping a 3-1 heartbreaker at the hands of Japan in the Olympic title game. But team USA’s next appearance will embody a sense of renewal for most Americans, and a touch of familiarity for Boston University softball fans. The Amateur Softball Association has assembled a new US coaching staff, and BU softball coach Shawn Rychcik is on it.
The 2007 America East Coach of the Year, who is in his fifth season coaching the Terriers, was one of 14 coaches named to the coaching ‘pool’ by USA Softball. Ultimately, Mississippi State University coach Jay Miller was selected from this pool as the head coach for the next four years.
As part of the pool, Rychcik will work as part of a team of coaches to help scout and coach the squad for the next four years.
The four-time United States National Team captain captured a gold medal, three silver medals and a bronze medal during eight seasons of international play. Regarded as the best player in the country from 1994-2004, Rychcik was inducted into the Amateur Softball Association Western New York Softball Hall of Fame in 2003.
‘It’s an honor to get the chance to represent my country again, like I did playing for so many years,’ Rychcik said.
Needless to say, Rychcik has a busy summer ahead of him.
‘In just the next year alone, we have the Canada Cup, the Japan Cup and the Pan-
American Qualifier,’ he said. ‘Next year, we have the World Championships.’
But Rychcik doesn’t see his increasingly busy schedule as a detriment to the BU program. Instead, he thinks it will strengthen the program.
‘It will make my summers busier, but it won’t lessen what I do here,’ Rychcik said. ‘Being a coach on the national team is held in high regard. Hopefully, recruiting benefits, and more people will want to learn from me.’
Rychcik will be heavily involved in gameday prep, scouting and directly advising the players. His 22 years of involvement in the game offer much to draw from, but according to the man who hit .352 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs in 78 career international games, hitting is his strength.
‘I’ve always loved hitting, and I know it well,’ Rychcik said. ‘But on the flip side, I can give a different perspective to pitchers based on what I know at the plate.’
Under Rychcik, the 2007 Terriers broke the school record for home runs in a season. Before taking the head coaching position, Rychcik served the Terriers as hitting coach. In his first season on board, 2003, the Terriers put up their third-highest batting average and fourth-highest slugging percentage in school history.
Clearly, a similar role on the U.S. National Team would behoove the U.S. Softball brass and its players.
But Rychcik is willing to help in any way he can.
‘I just want to see the team succeed internationally,’ he said. ‘They are coming off a rough Olympics and are looking to bounce back.’
In Beijing this summer, the women’s team fell to Japan with knowledge that softball would hereafter be removed from the Olympics. With no opportunity in 2012 for redemption, a bitter taste subsists.
The U.S. national team had won the gold in each year softball was an event ‘-‘- 1996, 2000 and 2004.
‘We know it’s not coming back in 2012,’ Rychcik said. ‘Especially with it being held in a European city [London], where softball is not popular.
‘There are rumors that the Olympics may come to Chicago in 2016, so hopefully it will be reinstated then. It would also stand a chance to come if the Olympics are held in a far eastern country like Japan.’