Courtesy of Yale Athletics

Last week, Team USA Softball announced that Yale assistant coach Laura Ricciardone would be joining their Olympic staff as a training camp coach. This is Ricciardone’s second stint with USA Softball, after traveling with the team in 2017-18.

With the Yale spring season in a state of flux, Team USA saw an opportunity to recruit Ricciardone for training camp, the assistant coach said. The training camp takes place in Clearwater, Florida, from March 3 to 18.

“Because Yale Softball won’t be competing this spring, I have the ability to manage Yale responsibilities remotely for these weeks of camp and help execute these training camps with USA,” Ricciardone wrote in an email to the News. “I’m really grateful to USA for providing me the opportunity to join the team and help execute training sessions and competitions. I’m also thankful to the Yale administration for letting me take advantage of this opportunity this spring.”

As far as specific responsibilities, Ricciardone will be serving in a short-term capacity, so she can return to Yale later this semester. As the team prepares for the Tokyo Olympics, Ricciardone said that she will be helping execute games and practices. After the NCAA softball season, the original staff will resume coaching the US team.

Ricciardone joined the Yale staff in the summer of 2019, after previously working for the University of South Florida.

“I’ve known Laura for many years as she had played at Harvard so we had competed against her. [I’d] always admired her as a player,” Yale softball head coach Jen Goodwin told the News. “When a previous assistant coach left … she was somebody that I thought about.”

Goodwin added that Ricciardone came highly recommended by Boston University’s head coach Ashley Waters. Ricciardone worked at BU briefly in 2015.

Goodwin had told Waters that she did not think Ricciardone would leave USF. She told the News that Ricciardone was working with Ken Eriksen, the U.S. National Team coach, so Goodwin “thought that [Ricciardone] had a pretty good gig down there.”

Yet, after a campus visit and a meeting with Goodwin, Ricciardone agreed to join the Yale staff.

“We were able to convince her to come up to campus and have a look around and share philosophies, and outlooks for the program, and we were able to get her on board,” Goodwin said. “Which was a steal, really.”

Since joining Yale’s staff under two years ago, Ricciardone’s impact has been palpable.

For pitcher Julia Grobman ’24, Ricciardone’s presence is especially appreciated because she has history as a pitcher at Harvard and as a pitching coach.

“She’s genuinely been one of the best things that’s happened to me at Yale,” Grobman told the News. “She’s really invested in me, as a person, and I think that makes me want to play that much harder for her. … Not only is she my coach, but she’s my friend.”

Grobman is currently on a year of absence. Her first year at Yale coincided with Ricciardone’s hiring.

Goodwin also had high praise for her new assistant.

“From the moment that she stepped on campus, she has had an impact on the program … and the department,” Goodwin said. “She’s not just a Yale softball assistant coach, she is a figure in the department. She has great connections. She’s involved in a few committees and has become quickly a leader amongst her peers.”

On Monday, Team USA defeated Team Mexico 4–2 in their first international competition of the season.

Nader Granmayeh | nader.granmayeh@yale.edu

NADER GRANMAYEH