NFCA Hall of Fame head coach Patty Gasso has led the Oklahoma softball program to four national championships (2000, 2013, 2016, 2017) and has seen her Sooners' teams reach the Women's College World Series 12 times during her tenure.
Coach Gasso will be one of the many legendary figures speaking this weekend at the Empowering Girls for Life convention to be held August 10-12 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
The event includes an array of great speakers on Saturday and Sunday including Jennie Finch, Stacey Nuveman, Patty Gasso, Carol Hutchins and many more
If you're a softball fan and would love to listen to--and even meet, get autographs and converse with--softball legends like , then you won’t want to miss the event!
Click HERE to get more information on how to attend!
Earlier today, Extra Inning Softball's Brentt Eads caught up with Coach Gasso to find out how she became involved in the ground-breaking event and why...
How did you first get involved with the Empowering Girls for Life Convention?
Bill Conroy reached out to me and I praise him for what he’s trying to do. I think it’s a time that’s very important for young girls in this culture to become empowered in every way. As soon as I talked to Bill, it was a no brainer as this is something I really believe in.
It’s a passion for me as a coach. It’s my goal and mission to ensure that when players come in as girls--which they are--that they leave as women who are strong, independent and confident in what they’re doing.
At what age do you think it’s important for parents and coaches to start instilling this “empowerment.”
The earlier we can teach these things, the better. Any time or chance I can do something like this and promote this platform to players, parents and coaches I jump on it. It’s important for them to hear my side and learn about what I see because they’re all involved with the future of their young players and it’s never too early to start having this mentality.
What is the No. 1 problem with young girls you see that you’d like to see changed?
Insecurity. There are a lot of words I can use, but that one jumps to mind. It’s the young girls’ mentality of, “I’m not good enough” or “My parents, coaches, or friends say I’m not good enough.” There’s constant pressure like, “Why haven’t you gotten an offer yet?” We’ve even had some tragedies where girls have taken their lives because of this pressure. I don’t just want to focus on the tragedies, but it’s everywhere: social media including online bullying, worrying about “how many "Likes’ I get (or that she got more than I did).” Sometimes a person’s worst enemy is their own mind where we can create something that becomes twisted and it’s not the truth.
So what do the adults do to make this better?
We need parents, teachers, coaches to build these young players up--whether building them up on the softball field or facing criticism off the field--we have to address this and my passion is trying to send a message to the adults that it’s not right to pass on the message to young people that “you’re not good enough.”
It shouldn’t be that the worst thing about going to the softball fields, sometimes, is the ride home when the fun gets taken out of it. I’m trying to get the adults to understand the unconditional love they should have for their players and kids, that even if you strike out three times you walk away feeling loved. We shouldn’t allow softball to define who we are and who they, the young people, are.
How you determined what you’ll be speaking on at the Empowerment Conference?
I’m speaking Sunday, I’m doing my own 30-minute segment. I’m going to talk about fighting for what is right. I’m going to show a piece on the World Cup in soccer where the women stood up for what’s right and not settling because they are females. I’m going to go into Paige Lowary’s story about the ups and downs of softball; I want kids to hear it and about her wanting to quit softball followed by a clip of her winning a (Women’s College World Series) National Championship on the mound. I’m going to talk about softball and the topic of breaking out of the chains of insecurity.
If you could get across one message this weekend to help adults and youth become empowered for change, what would it be?
To parents or coaches, I would say to stop and think before you react. Think about what you’re going to say before it just spills out. These young, impressionable females hear what you say and they don’t unhear it… it doesn’t just go away. Take a second, whether you’re fired up or even enraged, to check what’s going to come out of your mouth because it can’t be erased.
On the young female side, I hope they walk away with the message to enjoy life away from softball. I really don’t recommend that softball is all you do every day and all you think about. The best athletes I have are balanced meaning they have other things going on in their life. The player who sleeps with her glove is the one I’m concerned about! I want them to play other sports, have a social life and focus on their studies. Softball shouldn’t be all you think and talk about when you’re at home. It’s called "balance."
HOW TO SIGN UP: click here to go to the EmpowerGirls.life website and click on the Tickets tab to sign up for $35 for General Admission and--if you want to add a VIP Pass of $35 to each ticket--you will be able to meet the speakers, get their autographs on a poster and also receive an Empowering Girls for Life t-shirt. Remember to use the code "EIS" to guarantee you'll get a SWAG bat valued at $70 for free as part of your purchase.
The first 1,500 who sign-up will receive a special SWAG bag valued at $70 including coupons, vouchers, tickets, and more but if you purchase a ticket and use the Extra Inning Softball Promo Code of EIS you will be guaranteed to receive a SWAG bag!
Speakers who have made their mark in softball you won’t want to miss will include:
- Jennie Finch - Olympic Gold Medalist, All-American Champion, National Player of the Year, 2001 undefeated season (including 51 consecutive victories) at the University of Arizona and former Chicago Bandit.
- Stacey Nuveman - former four-time NCAA Division I softball All-American, three-time Olympic medalist and Head Coach of the Chicago Bandits.
- Patty Gasso - Head Softball Coach at the University of Oklahoma and four-time NCAA Champion.
- Carol Hutchins – current Head Softball Coach at Michigan, two-time NFCA Coach of the Year and all-time winningest coach in NCAA Div. I history.
- Kate Drohan – current Head Softball Coach at Northwestern.
- Jenna Lilley – Oregon All-American and member of USA Softball National Team.
- Jen Tyrrell – head coach of the Beverly Bandits 16U club team and PGF Nationals championship coach.
- Jami Lobries, Ph. D – Vice President of USSSA Fastpitch.
- Alexis Holloway – current Notre Dame pitcher, winner of the PGF 18U National Championship game last summer, 2017 National Player of the Year.
- Alexis Mack – current Oregon standout player, 2017 Pac-12 batting champion.
Other outstanding and accomplished speakers include:
- Victoria Arlen – Paralympian Gold Medal Swimmer, ESPN sportscaster and ABC’s Dancing with the Stars contestant.
- Laurie Hernandez – USA Gymnastic Gold Medalist and winner of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
- Christa Dietzen – Captain of US Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team, two-time Olympic Medalist, World Championship Gold Medalist and two-time NCAA National Volleyball champion at Penn State.
- Christie Pearce Rampone – Professional soccer defender for Sky Blue FC, three-time Gold Medalist with USA Olympic Soccer Team and two-time World Cup Champion.
- Jessica Tenuta – 24-year-old Co-founder/CPO of Packback and Shark Tank winner.
- Kaeya Majmundar – 22-year-old creator of Ziptank & BZBox and Shark Tank winner.
- Kathrine Switzer – First woman to run in the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry in 1967. Won the Women’s New York City Marathon in 1974, named Female Runner of the Decade, Billie Award winner and Emmy award winner as a TV commentator and journalist.
- Kendall Coyne – Led the 2018 gold medal Olympic Hockey team as co-leader in points scored. Helped Carl Sandburg win a 2010 Illinois High School Softball State Championship.
- Lawyer Milloy – Former 2001 Super Bowl Champion with New England Patriots, 1st team All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowler, Jim Thorpe Award winner, and two-time MLB draftee.
- Tracey Fuchs – Northwestern Field Hockey Head Coach, two-time field hockey athlete of the year, and member of two Olympic and four World Cup teams.
- Whitney Reynolds – Host of the Whitney Reynolds Show.
For a complete schedule of speakers, locations, exhibitors and more information, go to: www.empoweringgirls.life