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Updated: December 4, 2018
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by USA Softball, Marco Stoovelaar & Fred Versluis)


...Ronnie Isham...
(1943 - 2018)
(© Photo: USA Softball)
American Director of National Softball Teams Ronnie Isham passed away

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (USA) - Ronnie Isham, who was active for USA Softball as an administrator and other various positions for over 35 years, passed away on Monday, December 3 at age 75.

H. Ronnie Isham was born January 30, 1943, was nicknamed 'Bear' or 'Paw-Bear' and loved softball, camping and hunting. Isham served as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Stephenville and later as Director of Community Services from 1964 until his retirement in 2001. Many of the facilities and services at the current Stephenville City Park were introduced by Isham. When he retired in 2001, the City of Stephenville honored Isham and presented him with a sign referring to the Stephenville City Park as 'The park that Bear built'.

,,Ronnie was a great person to work with and he was always so supportive of young people'', said Norma Savage, General Sales Manager of KTFW FM-radio, who worked closely with Isham when she was a coach in Stephenville. ,,He was ahead of his time when it came to making sure that young girls in our community had the same opportunities as the boys. Ronnie encouraged the girls to use the facilities and helped put together twirling contests. Ronnie Isham was a good man and I will miss him dearly.''

Ronnie Isham has been a softball-player himself, but in later years, he was a Manager, Player Representative, Team Manager, Commissioner and Director of National Teams for USA Softball. ,,Ronnie Isham fought for what he believed in and there was never a doubt that he was committed to the growth and development of our National Team Programs. He will be missed by the hundreds of athletes and staff who have had the honor of working with him'', said Craig Cress, the Executive Director of USA Softball, which is the governing body for softball in the United States. ,,Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Gaytha, as well as his entire family and friends from all across the world during this difficult time''.

As a Manager, Isham led several teams to Regional Championships and reached the Fast Pitch National Championship Finals in Softball Men seven times. In 1978, he was asked by then International Softball Federation President Bill Kethan to form a men's fast pitch team to represent the USA in a tour of South Africa. The team traveled across the country for a monts to promote the sport.

...Ronnie Isham addresses the team representatives and...
...coaches before the start of the 2009 World Cup of Softball... Oklahoma City (USA); Standing in the middle is...
...USA Softball Executive Director Ron Radigonda...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Hereafter, Ronnie Isham became the Commissioner of District 12 in Texas and in 1986, he was appointed Player Representative for USA Softball.

Before becoming involved on a national level, Isham was the President of the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation in 1989-1991. For his many years of service in the TAAF, Isham received the Koger Stokes Award in 1997 and was named Life Member of TAAF in 2002.

In 1992, Isham became a member of the first-ever Women's National Team Selection Committee that selected the inaugural American National Women's Team for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (USA). Team USA went on to win the Gold Medal. Isham also became the Team Manager (or Team Leader) of several National Teams, including the 1996 Olympic Softball Team. He already had served in that position since 1991 when he was the Team Manager of the Junior Men's Softball Team of the USA during the World Championship in New Zealand.

Isham was a member of the Women's National Team Selection Committee from 1992 through 2001. As such, he was involved in the selection process for several National Teams at different levels. That also included the Softball Teams that won the Gold Medals at the World Championship in 1994 (Canada) and 1998 (Japan) and the Team USA that won the Gold at the Olympic Games of 2000 in Sydney (Australia).

...Ronnie Isham with Paul Boonstra, Team Manager...
...of the Netherlands Softball Team, during the 2012...
...Women's World Championship in Whitehorse (Canada)...
(© Photo: Fred Versluis)
In September 2001, Isham was named USA Softball National Teams Director. He would continue to serve in this role until December 2017. In these years, the American Women's Softball Team dominated on the global stage. Team USA again won the Gold Medal at the Olympic Games in 2004 in Athens (Greece) and then the Silver Medal in 2008 in Beijing (China). In this period, the team also captured three Gold Medals at the Pan American Games. The American Men Softball Team won Silver at the Pan American Games in 2003 (Dominican Republic) and Bronze at the 2000 World Championship in South Africa.

In his role as National Teams Director, Ronnie Isham made many friends around the world. In those years, Isham also had good contacts with representatives of the Netherlands, including Craig Montvidas (Head Coach), Paul Boonstra (Team Manager) and Marco Stoovelaar (Media Officer), who were active with the Netherlands Women Softball Team for several years. They frequently met during international tournaments, including the World Championship, Canada Cup and World Cup of Softball.

,,Ronnie was truly a dedicated softball professional that was involved in every aspect of the game'', said Ron Radigonda, the former Executive Director of USA Softball. ,,He had an outstanding career in the Parks and Recreation Field and working with USA Softball of Texas. He was instrumental in selecting the 1996 and 2000 Women’s Olympic Softball Teams that captured the Gold in Atlanta and Sydney. He then made his way to the National Office and guided the USA Softball Men’s and Women’s National Teams to many accomplishments including a Gold Medal at the Athens Olympic Games and a Silver at the Beijing Olympic Games. Ronnie was affectionately known as 'Bear' by everyone he worked with and his friends. He gave so much to the sport of softball in so many ways and he will be missed but always remembered for his contributions and his friendship.''

The webmaster of Grand Slam * Stats & News offers his condolences to Ronnie's wife Gaytha, their son Shay, their grandchildren and other family and wishes them a lot of strength with this loss.

(December 4)

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