This week, we focus on women’s sports, and after the exciting season our softball program had, I thought it was only appropriate to choose a former softball player. When researching past players, so many names came up. But Dr. Dot Richardson stood out to me because of her list of “firsts”.
Richardson’s career spans five decades. According to an interview, she gave with Liberty University (which you can view below), she was once scouted by the little league team in her hometown, but, in order to play, she was going to have to change her name and cut her hair. While finally being offered the chance to play baseball, she politely declined, not wanting to deny who she was.
Not thirty minutes later, the local softball team scouted her and her softball career would begin. In 1972 she joined the Union Park Jets in Orlando fast pitch softball team (where the average age of the team was 22 and she was 10), and also the Orlando Rebels in the ASA (Amateur Softball Association of America). According to TeamUSA.org, she was the youngest player in ASA history to play in a Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship at age 13. Before moving on to college, she played in the 1979 Pan American Games, where she earned her first gold medal.
Her collegiate career began at Western Illinois where she played for one year, but Richardson had always wanted to go to UCLA. The year before she started college, UCLA had won every women’s championship that was organized through the AIAW, so she was naturally drawn to the success of the university. She had the opportunity to transfer the following year to UCLA, where she played from 1980 to 1984. During that time, she led the Bruins to their first national championship in 1982.
She would win a total of 13 gold medals and one silver between the Pan American Games, ISF World Championships, Tri-Nation Challenge, International Cup, South Pacific Classic, World Games II, Women’s World Challenger Cup, and the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games. At the 1996 games in Atlanta, she hit the game-winning home run against China in the Gold Medal game and batted a total .273 with seven RBIs and nine runs scored. This was the first gold medal awarded in softball in the history of the Olympic games.
Richardson is a member of the National Softball Hall of Fame and the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. She played professionally with the Florida Rebels of Orlando, Raybestos Brakettes of Stratford, Connecticut, and the California Commotion of Woodland Hills, California, where she would end her softball career.
Her softball accolades include being a three-time NCAA All-American, two-time AIAW All-American, three-time UCLA MVP and the 1983 All University Award at UCLA. She was named MVP in the Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship four times.
As if she wasn’t successful enough in softball, Richardson also became as an orthopaedic surgeon. While playing softball professionally, she managed to go to medical school at the University of Louisville, where she earned her M.D. in 1993. During her residency, she took only one year off to participate in the 1996 Olympic games. Between 1999 and 2000, she did a fellowship in sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Clinic in Los Angeles and was Executive Director and Medical Director of the National Training Center until 2012.
She is now the head softball coach at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, a position she accepted in 2013 (after passing on an opportunity to run for Senate—you have to watch the video!). She recently led her team to the NCAA Regionals. Richardson now serves as a board chair for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Softball Ministry, where her husband Bob Pinto is the national director.
Dr. Dot Richardson not only left her mark at UCLA, but on the softball world in its entirety.
For an in-depth video profile courtesy of Liberty University, take a look at this video: