WCWS Marks Silver Anniversary in OKC

College Softball World Series

WCWS Marks Silver Anniversary in OKC

When the Women's College World Series is held in 2015 again in Oklahoma City, it will be a milestone for the prestigious event. It will be 25th anniversary of the event being held in Oklahoma City. The Silver Anniversary. Since first being held in OKC in 1990, the event during those more than two decades has become one of only three events that that NCAA has held at a site on a continuing basis. That is quite an accomplishment and certainly is a credit to the people who worked and believed in having the event in Oklahoma City. People like Glenn Boyer and Stanley Draper Jr. who were instrumental in OKC securing the bid to hold the WCWS in 1990. It was only eight years after the NCAA had taken over the sponsorship of the event and the event certainly wasn't the hot ticket it is today, but that didn't stop Boyer, Draper, Marita Hynes and Pete White who had traveled to Sunnyvale, California, to view the 1989 WCWS. Even before the 1989 trip, OKC had been interested in hosting the event in the mid-1980s thanks to the interest of Boyer, who had been introduced to fast pitch through his daughter Candi, who had played fast pitch for the University of Kansas in the mid-1980s. In 1983, as president of the city's All Sports Association, Boyer had put together the All College Women's Softball Tournament in the fall of 1983 with a field of  some impressive teams, including 1983 national champ Texas A&M. All Sports sponsored the tournament and Oklahoma City University served as the host school.

In addition to hoping to host the WCWS, Draper and Boyer were determined to have OKC host the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival, formerly the National Sports Festival, which had given the sport of softball additional media exposure with the ASA's top four finishers from the Men's and Women's Major National Fast Pitch Championships earning a berth in the event. Don Porter, former ASA executive director, was a member of the Olympic Committee and his connection, plus the completion of the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in 1987, was helpful. Oklahoma City was awarded the host site for the 1989 Olympic Festival, with help from Porter and the city providing funding to enhance the stadium. The parking lot was expanded and improvements were made to the facilities. The 1989 Olympic Festival was very successful and the Hall of Fame Stadium was named the Best Venue. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, the ASA even added men's major caliber slow pitch to the softball competition along with the Major men's and women's fast pitch teams. The following year top caliber women's slow pitch teams played in the Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Shortly after the 1989 WCWS had ended in Sunnyvale with the attendance only a slight improvement over the year before, it was announced that Oklahoma City would host the 1990 and 1991 Women's College World Series. Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma would serve as host schools with the All Sports Association the hosting organization. Some wondered if OKC would host the event again after those years, but it was Draper's and Boyer's intent to make OKC the home of the Women's College World Series from the outset. Hynes, a former college coach at OU, was named the tournament director and she was more than up for the task and did an outstanding job in serving as tournament director for the first 15 World Series. She provided the continuity and leadership to continually improve the event year after year. Fortunately, each year the event got better and better, and of course ESPN continued to improve its coverage, going to only a few games tape delayed to live broadcasts of all of the games.

All of this paid off and today the NCAA and those involved with the WCWS have an event that is truly as good as it gets for women's college softball. And with the improvements the ASA is going to make in the next three to five years, the event promises to get even better. The NCAA announced at this year's event that the WCWS would be held annually in OKC for years to come and that was rare for the NCAA to give the OK to host one of their superior events in a city for a continued span of time. But it isn't surprising considering the time, effort and work of people like Boyer, Draper, White, Hynes and others who believed in the event and felt it should stay in OKC and become the home of the WCWS. The WCWS has indeed found a home and it will be a silver anniversary to remember in 2015 for all those who believed in the event becoming the crown jewel of college softball. That is the View From Here.