PROVIDENCE, R.I. - USF head softball coach Ken Eriksen was named the head coach of the United States National Team as announced by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball.
Eriksen will serve as the head coach for the Women's National team in 2011 and 2012, which will include the 2011 Pan American Games and the 2012 International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championships. Eriksen will become the first male in USA Softball history to represent the organization as both a player and a head coach.
"This is an incredible opportunity for me as a coach and for USA Softball to bring new faces into the USA Softball National team family," Eriksen said. "Our goal is to prepare and shape this unit into a championship caliber team that will compete in the next two ISF medal events as well as the World Cup of Softball here in the United States in front of our fans."
In 2001, Eriksen joined the National Team staff and remained with the team through 2004, where he helped lead the program to the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal, becoming the only USF coach in school history to accomplish such a feat.
"First, I want to thank the members of the National Team Selection Committee for having the faith in me to represent the most successful softball team in the history of women's international softball," Eriksen said. "I also would be remiss not to thank two mentors. I want to thank Mike Candrea for believing in me and getting me involved as part of the National Team program from 2001-2005. His guidance and mentoring have been invaluable to me. I also want to thank Jay Miller for his confidence and trust in bringing me back to work with the program the last two years. I hope to make these two great American coaches proud."
Eriksen, who rejoined the National Team in 2009, had the primary responsibilities of pitching, catching and scouting for Team USA. He recently helped Team USA to the 2009 Canada Cup title.
"I look forward to working with the USA National Team's Director, Ron Isham, in his quest to continue USA Softball excellence and helping facilitate ASA Executive Director Ron Radigonda's campaign in helping softball gain re-entry into the Olympic Games in 2020," Eriksen said.
Eriksen, a USF graduate and former baseball player with the Bulls, took the reign as head coach of the USF softball team in 1997, and has spent the past 14 years as skipper.
Since Eriksen became head coach in 1997, he has ended the season with a winning record on 12 occasions. While at the helm of one of the most successful programs on campus, Eriksen has led eight teams to the NCAARegional, won a Regional Championship in 2006, made a Super Regional appearance that same year and has won three conference titles, the latest being the BIG EAST Regular-Season Championship in 2008.
After earning his bachelor's degree in political science at USF, Eriksen decided to turn his attentions from the baseball diamond to the softball arena. He competed at the elite fastpitch level with the Clearwater Bombers from 1986-93, and with Miller-Toyota of Salt Lake City, Utah, from 1993-95. In 1997, he retired after winning an ASA Men's National Championship with the Tampa Smokers.
During his playing career, Eriksen amassed a wealth of international experience, participating in eight ISC World Championships and eight ASA National Major Championships. In 1988, he was a member of a select team that represented the United States against the Cuban National Team. In 1991, Eriksen was the catcher on the United States National Fastpitch Team that won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Cuba. A year later, he was named First-Team All-World as a catcher and to the All-North American Team.
"I think that any time you can add legitimacy to what you are doing by having been in the fire, not just near the fire, it lends itself to the players that you have that type of professional experience," Eriksen said. "I think that helps with communication to those kids about what it is."
Eriksen played in three Olympic Sports Festivals winning a silver medal in 1993. In 1997 after retiring from playing, he was named the head coach for the Men's 19U World Team that represented the United States in St. John's, Newfoundland, before becoming the skipper of the Bulls.
"We are thrilled to have a great cross section of coaches for the Women's National team program for the next two years," said ASA and USA Softball Executive Director Ron Radigonda. "With the ISF change of World Championships every two years, we are excited to assist coaches in gaining international experience and opportunities."
Eriksen has amassed a record of 611-333-1 at USF and is the winningest coach in the history of the program.