2011 ASA/USA 16-Under Class-A Girls Fastpitch National Championship
Opening Ceremonies Sunday, July 31 at 5 p.m.
720 E. 4th Street
By Abby Hill
University of Tennessee head softball coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly will be in Chattanooga this week, but not just for a simple visit home. The main task on their agenda is to welcome the thousands of teenage girls arriving in the Scenic City for the 2011 ASA/USA 16-Under Class-A Girls Fastpitch National Championship.
There are none better to welcome these young women than the Weeklys, who are known both locally and internationally as big names in the game. The two are speaking at the tournament's opening ceremonies this evening at UTC's McKenzie Arena. Coach Ralph Weekly says they will be sending a message of sportsmanship to the players and coaches.
The Weeklys are proud residents of Tennessee, especially Chattanooga, and recognize what a tournament of this scale can do for the city and even their program at the University of Tennessee.
"First of all, Chattanooga is beautiful," Ralph Weekly said. "A tournament of this size will bring outstanding athletes here. It will bring the attention of the softball world to Chattanooga. Karen and I will get the opportunity to see [these players] firsthand and they will get the opportunity to see the state of Tennessee. Hopefully they will choose to be student-athletes here one day."
As co-coaches of the Lady Volunteers softball team since 2001. the Weeklys have brought the program to the top realms of NCAA softball. During their tenure, the Lady Vols have appeared in the Women's College World Series four times, and the Weeklys have been awarded SEC Co-Coaches of the Year twice.
Before the opportunity to coach at Tennessee, Ralph was the head coach, and Karen the assistant coach, at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from 1995-2001. The UTC program also made a significant turnaround with the Weeklys in charge.
Ralph Weekly is internationally known for his skills as a hitting coach. He was the hitting coach for the US National Team twice, helping lead the team to two gold medals. He is the only collegiate softball coach to have two gold medals and two national championships. Karen Weekly was a two-time All-American and is also known for her techniques in hitting. In 2007 she released a hitting tutorial entitled "The Tennessee Slap Attack," which put softball the "Tennessee Way" on the map.
It is safe to say that both Ralph and Karen Weekly know the game of softball and what it takes for a player or a team to make it to the top. Ralph Weekly says that in regards to any young, ambitious softball player with collegiate or Olympic dreams that she must learn to, "Play the games one pitch at a time. Leave everything on the field. Always have a good attitude. Put your team first, and strive to be a champion on and off the field."
In order to be successful off of the field, he advises the girls to "have a good time with anything you do in life. Enjoy each moment and be proud of your abilities and who you are."