DURHAM, N.C. – Duke softball assistant coach Amanda Chidester is departing her position with the Blue Devils to pursue an opportunity with USA Softball. Chidester, who joined Duke on September 1, 2016, leaves to train on a full time basis for Team USA as softball was added back to the Olympics for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“I decided I'm going to go with my lifelong dream to be playing in the Olympics,” Chidester said. “It's the last thing on my list to do in softball. When softball got announced back into the Olympics, it's my last go for it. I wanted to give everything that I had to go for it. I felt I owed myself that.”
Softball became an Olympic sport in the Atlanta 1996 Games, and remained on the Olympic program in the Sydney 2000 Games, the Athens 2004 Games and the Beijing 2008 Games. It was then removed from the London 2012 Games and also from the Rio 2016 Games. At the Tokyo 2020 Games, softball will be back for the first time in three editions of the Olympic Games.
While a student-athlete at the University of Michigan, Chidester was the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year (2011, 2012) and a two-time NFCA All-America honoree (2009, 2011). She was also Michigan's Big Ten Medal of Honor winner as a senior in 2012. On the Wolverines' career charts, Chidester completed her tenure ranked second in RBI (200), second in grand slams (5), fourth in slugging percentage (.596), fifth in home runs (40), ninth in hits (248) and 10th in runs scored (157). She graduated in 2013 with a degree in physical education with a minor in health.
After completing her Michigan career, Chidester was selected as a member of Team USA Softball. She has captured a trio of gold medals at the World Cup of Softball, hitting .385 with five runs batted in, three scored and a home run during the 2014 edition. She has added a pair of silver medals at the ISF World Championships, a gold medal at the Japan Cup and a gold medal from the Mayor's Cup and Pan American Games Qualifier.
“I wanted to do both,” Chidester said of coaching the pursuing the Olympics. “When you're coaching, you want to give everything you have to your players and program. Your things get shifted to being second. I was faced with a very hard decision to continue coaching and risk not making the Olympics, or stop coaching and go for it. For me, my decision was because I knew I would regret if I did both and didn't make the Olympics, as opposed to going for it and not making it. This was the best decision for me and Duke Softball.”
Duke announced its plan to add softball in 2013 and hired Marissa Young as the program's first head coach in July of 2015. Plans for a new softball stadium are in progress as Duke will begin varsity competition in the spring of 2018.