2016. That's all Team USA could talk about.
Whether you were asking Vicky Galindo about her infield defense at the World Cup of Softball or querying Monica Abott about her riseball technique during an Olympic qualifier, each answer would inevitably come back to the squad's commimment to getting softball back in the Olympic rotation for 2016.
But on August 13th the International Olympic Committee (IOC) formally announced that softball would not be in the running for reinstatement, opting instead for golf and a souped-up version of rugby.
While nobody knows the precise reason softball was left out--committe dicusssions are kept confidential--a recent dispute between the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) over television revenue-sharing may have contributed to the decision.
What's clearer is that this will have a devestating effect on current and future Team USA squads.
To find out where USA Softball goes from here we had a chance to speak to softball icon Jennie Finch, along with other members of the Team USA roster and coaching staff, to get their reactions to this disappointing news.
Women's National Team Athlete, USA Softball
2004 Olympic Champion and 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist
"It's obviously disheartening. I think for the entire International Softball Federation and for us, it's a heartbreak, it's a loss. To see the sport transcend from where it started to how far we've come and then to be cut was such a devastating loss. Now this was our one shot of getting back in and we were hoping to get reinstated for 2016. That was our hope for so long and now it's gone. Obviously this is a very disappointing day for us. But like Coach Miller said, we have to rebound and I think our sport is too good not to prevail. Our sport will continue on. There will be USA Softball. There will still be international softball. We're looking forward to the World Championships next summer and the stage that the world will have to showcase how great our sport is and prove to the world that we belong in the Olympics. This fight isn't over."
On Her Olympic Future
"This is so much bigger than me. So whether I was going to play or not (in the 2016 Olympic Games), I don't even feel comfortable answering that question. It's for the young girls out there in Venezuela that got the hopes in 2008 with their country qualifying for the Olympics for the first time in softball. It's all the young girls' dreams all across this world and nation—that Olympic dream of representing your county at the Olympic Games that now won't be there. But we have to continue loving and playing this game at the level that it's been at. I look forward to doing so next year at the World Championships."
Women's National Team Athlete, USA Softball
"It's definitely a disappointment. Getting that news this morning was not my ideal way to start off the day. It's so sad to see that my dream along with many others is getting to the Olympic Games and now that is taken away. We do however still get the opportunity to put on that red, white and blue uniform. I think that no matter where you're at, what level you're playing at, that feeling will never go away. We still have the World Championships and there's still going to be international softball for young girls to dream about competing in. I think the main thing is just to look at this as not a deal breaker but a motivation to keep this sport growing and keep it going."
Executive Director, Amateur Softball Association of America/USA Softball
"All of us at ASA and USA Softball are disappointed by the vote of the IOC to not include softball in the Olympic programme in 2016. We've had a long storied history of excellence in the Olympic Games starting in 1996, including attendance of the Games in Beijing of over 180,000 people. We think our sport is deserving to be on the Olympic programme. It is a worldwide sport that is played in over 130 countries around the world with a very vibrant World Championships in both women and men. We are again very disappointed in not being included in the Olympic programme of 2016."
Head Coach, USA Softball
"Obviously it's a very frustrating and disappointing time for softball. We were excited with the opportunity that we might be able to get back on to the programme. Obviously the big disappointment was four years ago when we were dismissed from the Olympic programme for 2012 and beyond. We worked very hard over the past four years to try to get back into the Games. Again, it's sort of a frustrating time right now. You don't have a whole lot of control over things. We're obviously preparing and planning for next summer's World Championships. There is still going to be international softball and there is still going to be a U.S. National Team. We just need to turn our attention back to preparing our team to get ready for next summer."