OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- For women in sports, the Olympic Games are the pinnacle of performance. The next Olympiad in 2016 will go off without softball, which was recently voted out of the games.
"If your shoulders are straight, the ball will go straight," said former Olympian Christie Ambrosi.
It's simple yet meaningful advice that keeps students coming back to Ambrosi. They trust her guidance because they know she's been there. Ambrosi is hammering out softball's future, giving dozens of lessons each week at her Overland Park facility.
The game is second nature to Ambrosi. The Blue Valley Northwest graduate helped the USA win gold on the diamond in 2000, when the games were played in Sydney.
"I get down on their level and I explain it really well so that they understand," Ambrosi explained. "They know I've been there, so that makes a difference."
However, it's hard for Ambrosi to explain the International Olympic Committee's decision-making. In 2009, the games' governing body finalized a vote to exclude softball from its 2016 slate in Rio de Janeiro.
"It was very hard to get it into the Olympics," Ambrosi said. "The Olympics is our pinnacle. For them to take that away was very frustrating."
Ambrosi's students say cutting their game from the games steals an opportunity from them.
"You see all of these sports going to the Olympics for multiple things, and you don't see softball or baseball and it's upsetting," Halle England, one of Ambrosi's students, said.
"It seems like boys always get the spotlight," Josie Paisley, another student, said. "I think girls should be able to play in every sport."
The IOC may bring softball back as early as the year 2020, when the Olympic games go to Tokyo, Japan. By that time, many of Ambrosi's students will be college athletes in their own right, and thereby, potential Olympians. Christie says they deserve a chance to chase their own medal dreams.
"We don't have professional sports like the men," Ambrosi stated. "It's very difficult to make a living as a professional athlete as a woman."
And all they're asking is their chance to swing. Ambrosi will supervise the summer softball camps at the Blue Valley Recreation Center in early June.