Kissimmee, FL– December 21, 2016- Former USSSA Pride catcher and assistant coach Megan Willis has been named the USSSA Pride Assistant General Manager. Willis will oversee front office duties both in-season and off-season for the USSSA Pride. This marks the first time a former National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) player has assumed the role of Assistant General Manager for USSSA and only the second time in NPF history.
“From the first time I met Megan, well, the first time I heard her voice,” joked Pride General Manager, Don DeDonatis,” I knew she was a leader”. “Watching her take control of the field during her 6 years as a catcher for the Pride, she proved she had the qualities, the tools to do the same off the field.” She also proved her knowledge of the game this past season as she took on the role of Assistant Coach for the Pride and together with Assistant Coach Sam Ricketts and Head Coach Lonni Alameda, led the team to the 2016 NPF regular season championship.
Willis will take over for former Pride Assistant General Manager Gordon Glennie who has been in this position since 2009. Gordon was instrumental in establishing the Pride in the NPF League, creating relationships with college coaches as well as players and their parents, and educating everyone he came in contact with about the opportunities afforded women in the softball world. Gordon will continue with USSSA overseeing the USSSA Junior Pride program.
“I could not be more excited about this opportunity! It has always been a goal of mine to become a GM of a team in the NPF, however, it wasn’t until I had the privilege to play for the USSSA Pride that I realized I didn’t want to be a GM for just any team, I wanted to take over for Don when that day came,” said Willis.
As the Assistant General Manager, Willis’s main role is serving as a liaison between the Pride players and USSSA office. Willis’s duties will include scouting potential draftees, administering free agent player trades and acquisitions, coordinating in-season and off-season Pride player appearances, planning Pride Fall Tour stops, overseeing Pride player staffing within USA Elite Select program, and communicating between the Pride and management.
The year 2017 is going to be a huge year for USSSA and the Pride. USSSA is moving its headquarters to Space Coast Stadium, formerly the Washington Nationals Spring Training facility in Viera, FL, which will become home to the USSSA Pride.
“The moment I heard about this move I knew I had to move myself. If I wanted to continue down this path with the Pride, I needed to make them a priority. I wanted to be there day in and day out to be around the office and make sure I was all in. If we want USSSA and the Pride to grow, then we need people there full time.
The new USSSA complex in Viera includes 15 turfed fields, 5 NCAA-approved fastpitch fields and a new USSSA Pride stadium. Brevard County will now play home to the USSSA Pride and allow the team to build a hometown fan base.
“We finally have a chance to have our own stadium, which means we can truly build a fan base! Luckily we will have knowledgeable neighbors to reach out to as they have been following baseball for years. It’ll be our job now to show them how great fastpitch is and hopefully convert them to Pride fans,” said Willis on the move.
The naming of Willis as the Assistant General Manager makes history within USSSA and the entire NPF. Willis played eight seasons in the NPF with six of those for the Pride. She won three NPF Championship Series and three NPF regular season titles. Last season, Willis became the first former Pride player to be named an assistant coach with the team and becomes only the second former player to assume general manager duties in the NPF (Lisa Iancin served as Asst. GM for the Tennessee Diamonds in the 2010 NPF season).
“I think it is imperative to keep former NPF players around to help grow our sport. You see it in the College game, our sport has grown tremendously and has improved tenfold. I have to believe that’s because you are having more and more women stay in the game, whether its coaching, staying as a GA, becoming a Director of Operations, working for a sports manufacturer, or on the broadcasting side. There are just so many opportunities out there to stay in the game today and I do feel like it’s our duty to make sure we find ways to continue to make our sport the best it can be! It has always been a goal of mine to be on the managerial side of a NPF team and I couldn’t be more grateful to Don for seeing my passion for this role and taking a chance on me. “
The 2017 NPF season will begin with the annual NPF College Draft. Dates for the draft and upcoming season will be announced next month.
About USSSA Florida Pride: The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
About USSSA: The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF): National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball