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Jordan Taylor: Olympics that should have been

Despite making U.S. team again, Valencia grad’s sport won’t take place in London

Posted: January 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia High School graduate Jordan Taylor made the USA Softball Women’s National Team for the second straight year, but she won’t be able to experience Olympic competition next summer in London because the sport was removed after the 2008 games. Taylor recently graduated from the University of Michigan.

In 2020, Valencia High graduate Jordan Taylor will be 31 years old.

“Uh, yeah, I can’t envision playing softball then,” Taylor said. “I don’t now if my arm could hold up.”

But if Taylor wants to be an Olympian, she would have to wait that long — at least.

Last Wednesday, the strikeout queen of the Santa Clarita Valley was named to the 2012 USA Softball Women’s National Team for the second consecutive year.

Had softball not been removed from the Olympics after the 2008 games, Taylor would be in the circle in London competing for a gold medal.

“It’s obviously heartbreaking,” Taylor said of not getting the opportunity to play in the Olympics. “You grow up playing this sport — I didn’t ever envision playing at this level, but once it’s a reality, for it to be taken away, it’s not the best circumstance.”

Don’t get Taylor wrong, though.

She’s thrilled to be representing her country in international competition.

But what if?

The International Olympic Committee voted to drop softball from the Summer Olympics in a vote on July 11, 2005.

It was speculated that the IOC made the decision because of the USA’s dominance in the sport.

In four Olympic games — 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 — USA Softball won three gold medals and one silver, which they got after losing to Japan in the championship game in Beijing in 2008.

According to Jamie Blanchard, assistant director of marketing and communications for the Amateur Softball Association of America, the national governing body of the sport, 2020 is the soonest softball can return to the Olympics.

The IOC will decide next year on whether to include baseball, karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wushu (a martial art), and wakeboarding in the 2020 games.

In order to add one of these sports, another Olympic sport would have to be dropped.

Blanchard said one of the biggest effects of softball being dropped from the Olympics is funding.

The United States Olympic Committee no longer funds the sport, she said, so it has had to rely on other means.

Another effect is on the players themselves, who miss out on playing on the world’s grandest stage.

Two Santa Claritans, Crystl Bustos and Nicole Giordano, have represented USA Softball in the Olympic Games, with Bustos being recognized as the greatest power hitter in Olympics history.

Taylor said she’s now playing so a different generation of softball players will benefit.

The 23-year-old, who graduated from the University of Michigan with a general studies degree just two weeks ago, will compete in the ISF World Championships in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, from July 13-22.

As to if she would have a message for the IOC for when it votes on softball’s status, she said, “Softball’s spreading — the popularity throughout the world. Teams are getting a lot better. They’ll see that if they give the sport a chance, they’ll see how successful and popular it can be.”


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