Thursday September 16th, 2021

USSSA Update – An interview with USSSA CEO Don Dedonatis III


On Tuesday, April 21st I (DW) was able to have an hour long phone interview with Don Dedonatis III who is the CEO of the USSSA.

Here are the answers to questions which were posted on the USSSA-Slowpitch Facebook page:


Question from Gregory McClellan and Andrew Villegas – is there a tentative re-open date for USSSA?  When will USSSA softball and baseball start back up?

Don: USSSA events will be up and running in some areas by Mother's day weekend (May 9th).  There may be some events May 2nd weekend.

Overall USSSA will open up events across the country May 9th on a county by county basis in accordance with local government ordinances with regards to gathering sizes, how spread out the park is, and whether it is a private or public facility.

USSSA will provide directors with guidelines and best practices for safety.

So basically USSSA will have events on a small scale starting May 1st, open up where cities allow on May 9th, and are hopeful to have full scale operations in June.


Question: Will the adult programs start back up before the youth or will it all open up at the same time?

Don: Youth and Adult events will open up at the same time.  There has been a lot of interest from youth teams to get started and there have been a large number of teams willing to travel across the country to Viera, Florida to play Elite and World tournaments at Space Coast Complex this summer.


Question: Are there major concerns about getting the youth program started back up this year?

Don: No.  USSSA wants to continue to provide an outlet for competition the same as it has in the past and make it as safe as possible by working with local governments and listening to medical professionals.


Question: Once started back up, will the indoor sports/activities start up at the same time?

Don: At this time of year there isn't a lot of USSSA sports played indoors so the opening up of events in the near term would just be diamond sports and soccer outdoors.  Basketball and volleyball will be opened up on an individual case by case basis.


Question: Will participants have to wear masks while playing and what precautions are going to be implemented?

Don: Masks will be allowed and encouraged.  We are discussing possibly providing Catcher and Umpire masks.  At the Viera Space Coast Complex there will be lots of hand sanitizer and safety instructions.  We will try to go to electronic payment for entry at the gate so that cash doesn't have to change hands to get into the facility.  We may have to stop having community water coolers in the dugouts and may have to open up the carry in drink policy.  We may have to ban gum and sunflower seeds, handshakes, having too many people in dugouts, and change the way umpire meetings are done pre-game.


Question: Will the players and staff temperatures be taken before they enter the complex?

Don: Not at this point.


Question: Would the ball have to be wiped down each inning?

Don: That is not feasible and if that is a requirement to play the sport then we would have to ask if it is safe to even be playing?


Question from Ryan Gafford and Joshua Luna – Can all World tournament dates move into October to allow more time for more tournaments through the summer?

Don: Yes.  The new dates for the Adult Slow-pitch World tournaments will be out in the next few days as the new dates are being finalized.  Military Worlds will most likely be in September and the rest of the Adult Worlds will start late September with most of the bigger events in October.  Stay tuned.


Question from Dustin Rathbone – Will the requirements to qualify for World tournaments change? Depending on when seasons open back up, it may be difficult for directors and teams to play in the required State, NIT, etc. to qualify for a berth?

Don: We don't want to completely abandon having a qualifying system but we are willing to work with the States and are willing to be flexible when it comes to qualifying for Worlds.  Each State will open up in a unique fashion and State directors should work with the slow-pitch committee and communicate qualifying changes.


Question from Jeremy Greene – Will the date to turn in player appeals be adjusted from the April 1st date?

Don: Once we start back up, we will be able to better determine a hard date for appeals.


Question from Andy Isom – Will there ever be a chance that the major world series would be played in a state other than Florida?  How about other world tournaments?

Don: With the stadium facility and the livestreaming capabilities at the Space Coast Complex I don't foresee the USSSA Major World Series being held anywhere but Viera, Florida.  But I am open to having any of the other World tournaments outside of Florida if a facility meets our approval and the location can provide an event that meets our standards.


Question: Did USSSA meet their hotel room night quota for 2019?

Don: The room nights in 2018 did meet the county's goals and 2019 is still being tallied because the room night "year" does not coincide with the regular calendar year but we are confident that those numbers were good as well.  Obviously in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic the hotels have been closed recently and there are no events going on.


Question from Matthew Ross – With several months of tournaments and league being cancelled will the timeline for the bat stamp change remain the same or move back at all?

Don: There is a meeting around May 4th to discuss possible deadlines that could be altered a little bit, possibly.  We definitely don't want to hurt the market and will work closely with the manufacturers.



Nationwide Conference USSSA Questions:

Question: Will the Conference still happen this year? And if so, what percentage of teams do you expect to forego the season and pick it back up next year?  It seems like there will have to be some major adjustments to the Conference including schedules, points, Worlds, travel issues, etc.  Have you considered making 4 or 5 of the tournaments Duals? (Vegas, HOF, Seattle, Smoky, and Last Chance) This would make for less travel if teams could accommodate the schedules. Maybe consider getting permission to play through the night for 2 of them?

Don: The Conference is going to try and start the last weekend in May in Las Vegas, Nevada and the schedule will have 16 or 17 events going into September, possibly the 2nd weekend in September.  As of now we will still count each team’s top 6 point scoring events and there will be Dual tournament weekends at the Hall of Fame Classic in early June and Seattle later in June.  We looked into a Dual in Columbus, Ohio but the fields were only available for one tournament.  We hope to have the updated Conference schedule out next week.

Question: How many sponsors has this hurt to the point where they won't be able to continue to sponsor? (I'm sure the Big 4 will still have no problem doing what they do)

Don: Each business and sponsor will be affected in different ways but we haven't heard of any that aren't going to continue on.  It is possible airline and hotel prices stay low for a while.  We just don't know.


Question: message board had a poll that showed 80% would like to see a blind draw for Dual #2 at the Hall of Fame Classic?

Don: I am open to discussing this idea with the main sponsor of each team to see if that is what they would like to see happen.


Question from DW – Do you miss playing in the Conference?

Don:  There are moments when I miss it and the comradery and team work but overall not as much as I thought except for the big events like the Major World Series.



Other random questions:

Question from Nick Naylor – When will the 2019 USSSA World Champions get their championship rings?

DW: Donny asked me to hook you (Nick) up with him via email to get to the bottom of whatever the issue is but normally teams receive them in the summer following the previous year’s championship.  Email me at and I will get you to someone that can answer your question.


Question: I'd like to ask him his opinion of his Uncle Tony leaving USSSA and going to One Nation?  And why it happened?

Don: Tony would have to answer that for you.


Question form Tim Millette Has the 'A' program you were a big part of with Mountain Top when the division was more or less localized as far as rosters goes prospered or faltered with the inclusion of open multi state/nationalized  rosters?

Don: My first year playing 'A' on mountain top was in 2001 when one of our players was from California and the 'A' division was already starting to have players from multiple states on a single team.  The players mentality has changed and players don't necessarily strive to "play up" like they did in the 80’s and 90’s.  While I understand the history of teams at softballs peak in the early and mid-1990's having had rosters with players from the same general area, it would be hard to police regional or area restrictions today.  I feel USSSA does the best of any association when it comes to classifying players and teams correctly with tools such as the 'PRV' rating that was put into place at the beginning of 2019.


2 responses to “USSSA Update – An interview with USSSA CEO Don Dedonatis III”

  1. Tim Millette says:

    Dale, Donny has a very good PARTIAL reply on the question you asked of regionalized teams…

    But..DD3 did not address the meat of the question that I had wanted asked..which was more or less..

    Did Donny think it helped or hurt the AA, A and B divisions when multiple state/national all star style team rosters were allowed? He never directly addressed that part.

    the player Donny referred to from california was a player that had never played tourney ball when I asked Greg Cannedy to “work him with your best stuff” when he was facing Timmy Rye in a lower level winter league game at willow pass park.. This was after Timmy finished playing at Louis and Clarke with Andy Purcell(if I remember correctly).

    After that game..I introduced myself to Timmy, told him about our team and said with work you could play very high caliber softball and if you want to improve and see how good you can get. I am the batting cages every wednesday night and you can hit with me for free. I will show you what others had shown me.

    In other words..I was a coach of a localized upper level team trying to introduce a future player to upper level softball…you know…something that does not happen very often now.

    Now A/AA sponsors just go shopping nationally…

    Donny needs to understand the only reason his michigan team was able to add that great “not major player” from norcal was
    because in a winter convention before Donny jr had beaten me in trying to stop nationalized rosters below the Major

    Dale..with your connections…you might have Donny jr available to discuss this one..if he doesn’t remember the occasion..maybe what he did after the final vote will shake his memory…

    He was sooo upset I almost beat him…I was told he changed the whole voting process on rule changes.

    You see even going head to head with me and telling everyone in the room what he wanted..the first vote ended up a tie, that meant it went to the whole floor for a vote three days later days later.

    That gas DD jr three days to talk to everyone before the second floor vote at the end of the convention.

    Obviously…DD3s dad ended up getting his way..and the rule to place anyone that flew out of their home
    region automatically unto the major list died.

    If that auto bump to the major list had passed…it is my belief the game would be in a better place today. Same goes for
    Michigan softball.

    I wish I had kept a copy of the rule changes letter I handed out to many at the convention for the two
    days I was there…with why and how it would help the game..then again..with how I spell and my lack of sentence structure..maybe I don’t.

    What I really wish on this subject is..that I didn’t have a business I had to run back to right after that first vote..If I had stayed for those other three days…maybe the rule change would have passed and the game would be much better right now.

    anyway…If you cannot get any feedback from DDjr…maybe ask DD3 to ask his pops about it.

    in the end Donny jr loved’s just he loved the major division too much..this caused him to
    feed division after division below Major the the never be able to stand on its own major

  2. DW says:

    You are correct Don II saved the major division and with it he saved local softball. Otherwise those 300 conference players would be playing locally and all the local teams would drop down yet another division.

    Don II the savior of slowpitch!

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