United States Specialty Sports Association

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The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) is a volunteer, sports governing body, non-profit organization based in Viera, Florida. It was founded in 1968, originally in Petersburg, Virginia. It was announced at the 2015 National Conference that USSSA would be moving to a new headquarters in Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida in the spring of 2017. USSSA will be taking over the Space Coast Stadium complex from the Washington Nationals baseball club. An additional eight multi-purpose all-turf fields will join the existing seven fields, and a new 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) building will house the USSSA National Hall of Fame and Sports Museum.

Originally USSSA stood for United States Slow-pitch Softball Association. However, in 1998, USSSA rebranded the name to United States Specialty Sports Association and expanded into other sports including youth girls fast-pitch and boys baseball. USSSA governs 13 sports across the US, Puerto Rico, various US Military bases, and Canada, and has a membership of over 3.7 million.[citation needed]

History[edit]

The USSSA organization was formed in the spring of 1968 after the founders' ideas were turned down at a different national softball association's national meeting. The founders of the organization are Robert Mueller, James DiOrio, Ray Ernst, Frank Ciaccia and Ted Mazza. They used their newly formed organization to implement new developments. These developments include longer fences, 65 foot base paths, a smaller batter's box, widened media coverage, and encouraged greater financial support.[1] Their experimental world tournament in 1968 was a success; there were 50 different teams from 15 states.

The first decade was a turbulent one. Teams flocked to the new association with progressive ideas, and the older organization enacted policies designed to keep teams from participating in USSSA sanctioned events. The battle ended up in a Federal court in Nashville, Tennessee, where USSSA prevailed after a long and expensive ordeal.[citation needed]

By 1971, USSSA was in debt and directors began resigning. In the fall of that year, a meeting was held in Petersburg, Virginia to decide whether to continue with the organization. The decision was made to move forward, and the executive board elected 40-year-old Al Ramsey of Petersburg as Chief Executive Officer. The constitution was completely overhauled and Ramsey instructed the board to pledge itself to operate on a sound business basis and launch an all-out campaign for qualified personnel. The USSSA National Headquarters was incorporated in the state of Virginia as a non-profit organization.

The following year, 30 new directors were replaced and 60 new directors were appointed. In less than a year, the association was completely out of debt and operating on a sound financial basis. Team and umpire registrations began to show considerable increases. The 1972 National Meeting was held in Rochester, New York, and about 75 directors attended.

USSSA grew rapidly throughout the 1970s and 1980s, adding new programs such as Church, Corporate, Women's, Mixed and multi levels of Men's play, along with structured Divisions such as Central, Southern, and Midwest. In 1981, USSSA purchased a 24,000 square foot building in Petersburg for its National Headquarters and Hall of Fame Museum. The Divisional Meeting concept was introduced and the Masters program was added. By 1987, USSSA passed 100,000 teams in total membership and the association voted to expand to eight divisions directed by four regions, with a major realignment plan to meet future growth needs.

In 1997, the USSSA became the first multi-sports governing body.[1] Currently the USSSA is the largest multi-sport governing body in the world.[citation needed] USSSA offers programs and tournaments in Baseball, Basketball, Fastpitch, Flag Football, Golf, Martial Arts, Lacrosse, Soccer, Slow-Pitch, and Volleyball.

Baseball[edit]

In 2004, USSSA held its first World Series, now an annual event.[2] The USSSA Wilson DeMarini Elite World Series has seven age divisions: 8U-KP, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U, 13U-60/90, and 14U-60-90-BBCOR.[2]

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