Dec. 3, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - On Friday night in front of a sparkling combination of hundreds of coaching peers, former players from throughout all NCAA levels, USA Softball veterans and other softball dignitaries at the Paris Hotel, Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nev., Tennessee Co-Head Softball Coach Ralph Weekly joined Ithaca Head Coach Deb Pallozzi in induction into the prestigious National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Fame.
By virtue of their induction, Weekly and Pallozzi become just the 50th and 51st all-time members of an illustrious softball fraternity that includes among its membership legendary coaches such as former UCLA Head Coach Sue Enquist, current Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins and longtime Fresno State Head Coach and 1,400-game winner Margie Wright.
His wife and fellow Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Karen Weekly introduced her husband at the ceremony before he took to the podium to deliver a speech that thanked his both current and former coaching influences, staff members and players and members of his family that were in attendance.
"To me this is a culmination of a career, for both Karen and I," Ralph Weekly said. "She had such a big part in my induction. It's the highest honor you can get in our game because this is the governing body of our sport. It's just a very good feeling right now. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was blessed to have 35 family members here. It was just a really nice night for me all the way around. I'm very honored and humbled at my induction tonight into the NFCA Hall of Fame."
In a 24-year career that has spanned portions of four decades and included 1,015 overall victories, Weekly has been successful at every stop along the way. He guided Pacific Lutheran to a pair of NAIA national championships (1988 & 1992) during a nine-year stint in Tacoma, Wash., and helped build UT-Chattanooga into a Southern Conference force alongside his wife and co-head coach Karen Weekly from 1995-2001, winning four regular season and SoCon Tournament titles.
Since arriving at Rocky Top prior to the 2002 campaign, the Weeklys' have built the Lady Vol softball program into a national powerhouse. Under the duo's guidance, Tennessee has won 514 games while registering four top-three finishes at the Women's College World Series during the last seven years (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010). From a league standpoint the duo's Big Orange squads won both the 2006 and 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournaments and the 2007 SEC regular season championship. Along the way UT became the first league school to reach No. 1 in the national rankings, staying in the lofty position for a then-record 11 consecutive weeks back in 2007, and the first SEC squad to qualify for the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series (2007). During the Weeklys' 10-season stay in Knoxville, Tennessee has reaped 21 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American selections, 34 NFCA All-Region nods, 40 combined All-SEC or SEC All-Freshman choices and an impressive 12 ESPN Academic All-Americans.
Weekly has also enjoyed a long and storied career involved with the USA Softball program, including serving as a hitting coach, third-base coach and team leader with the high-profile gold medal-winning 1996 (first-ever Olympic softball competition) and 2000 U.S. Olympic Softball squads. Included are stints as the USA Softball National Teams Director (1999-2001) and previously as a liaison to the ASA National Team Selection Committee responsible for the elite level selection process for Olympic, Pan American Games and other USA Softball National Teams. In December of 2009, Weekly was again chosen to the five-member selection committee for the USA Softball Women's National Team. He currently assists in choosing the elite-level athletes that represent USA Softball in international competition over a three-year appointment that spans from 2010-2012.
Between 1998 and 2001, Weekly worked closely with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to ensure that USA Softball received adequate funding for its programs and was fully equipped with the technical assistance it needed. He was also instrumental in securing the funding for the development of a state-of-the-art practice facility at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The facility has been used by all of the USA Softball National Teams and continues to be an integral part of USA Softball's success.
Under his direction, USA Softball captured the gold medal at the 1994 Pan American Games qualifier in Guatemala. He was an assistant coach on teams that won additional gold medals at the 1994 World Games in Nova Scotia, the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina, the 1996 South Pacific Classic in Australia, the 1997 Canada Cup, the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, the inaugural 1999 America Cup in San Diego, the 2000 European Championship in Rome, Italy, and the 2001 Hawaii Cup in Honolulu.
As a coach and National Teams Director for USA Softball, Weekly has appeared in 13 international tournaments, winning a gold medal each time. His international coaching record is a sterling 130-15 (.897). He has served on a pair of Olympic gold medal-winning coaching staffs and has claimed two national championships as a head coach (Pacific Lutheran, NAIA National Softball Champions, 1988 & 1992). He also directed all facets of the USA Men's National Team from 1999-2001.