Viera, FL-October 25, 2017-Jeff and Rhonda Strode were hosting the USSSA/USAY Destin & Fort Walton Beach World Series in July of 2016 when they got news that rocked their world. Rhonda, a softball mom of two and self-described fighter was diagnosed with advanced stage 3B breast cancer. Jeff, a USSSA Fastpitch Vice President and long time event director, and Rhonda would find themselves in an entirely new competition.
“You kind of go blank. I took 24 hours, and then I had my game plan” Rhonda described of her initial reaction to the news.

Jeff and Rhonda Strode host USSSA Fastpitch tournaments in South Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle. They have created a softball sanctuary in the south, where kids can play ball and be part of a community. This softball community they created provided much needed support for the Strodes as they fought this new battle.

“I was and am so fortunate. I couldn’t even tell you the number of teams sending me care packages… pajamas, flowers, food, everything” said Rhonda.

According to Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, in 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

Rhonda’s diagnosis required immediate action which began with weekly chemotherapy treatments. “There’s nothing easy about chemo. You go in at 7am and don’t leave until 4pm. It is a long day. They pump you full of poison and then you go home, feel awful, knowing you have to do it all over again the next week.”

Jeff added deeper insight into the daily fight his wife endured. “What she doesn’t tell you are the nights she spent on the floor of the bathroom. She would sleep in there because it was too much to keep getting up and going back and forth to bed.”

“But I was lucky…” responding to her husband, “I saw so many women going through it all by themselves. It’s hard to do that by yourself, everybody needs a person, just to be there.” The USSSA softball community that the two helped build was there, “I had people fighting over who would come with me to treatments.”

Jeff’s long-time presence in the USSSA softball community has created lasting relationships and friendships far beyond the softball field. The Strodes are grateful to know that the fastpitch community rallied around them during this tough time.

About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness. (Susan G Komen)

“The key is the early detection” said Rhonda, “gene testing is the answer, get the test and find out as soon as possible. Insurance companies won’t cover it, they don’t even cover mammograms until after the age of 40. We need to start making some changes”.

Rhonda’s great-grandma and two of her aunts passed away from breast cancer, yet she didn’t qualify for her insurance company to cover the early detection tests. Most insurance companies require one’s mother or grandmother to have had breast cancer in order to qualify for the company to cover the test and they won’t cover mammograms until after the age of 40. According to, the cost of early detection gene testing ranges from approximately $300 to $5,000, depending on whether one is being tested for only a specific area(s) of a gene known to be abnormal or if hundreds of areas are being examined within multiple genes. “I’m on a mission now that I’ve had it. Women need to start coming together for some change”.

Rhonda is looking forward to retirement but not for the same reason that most people do. “When I get a chance to retire, I will be a cheerleader for the women who are doing it alone. That is my goal… I was so lucky”. Rhonda said.

Rhonda Strode is an inspiration for us all. She found meaning and strength through this difficult time wondering, “Maybe that’s why all this happened to me. Maybe I am meant to be in there, cheering other women on, and just be there for people”.

Rhonda is currently in remission but doctors have recently found traces of pre-breast cancer that they will need to keep an eye on. However, she still considers herself lucky, knowing that there are people dealing with similar struggles all alone. She knows her fight isn’t over, but with the support of her family, friends and USSSA fastpitch softball community she is ready for battle.


GABORONE, Botswana – The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today awarded the hosting rights of the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup® 2018 to the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), a multi-sport organisation and WBSC Associate Member based in Viera, Florida.

The eighth edition of the women’s baseball world championship will be held from 17-26 August next year at USSSA’s new headquarters, the USSSA Space Coast Complex, in Viera. It will mark the first time the Women’s Baseball World Cup is staged in the U.S.

The WBSC Baseball Executive Board took the decision on the first day of WBSC World Baseball Softball Congress activities at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) in Botswana’s capital.

“This marks the first time that the Women’s Baseball World Cup will be staged in the United States,” said WBSC President Fraccari. “The USSSA has tremendous experience in organising elite-level events across multiple sports, and I am confident the new USSSA Space Coast Complex will be an ideal setting for the biggest stage and best players in women’s baseball.”

“USSSA is excited and honoured to have been awarded the hosting rights to our very first National Team event and official baseball world championship, the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2018,” said USSSA CEO Don DeDonatis.

The WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup was launched in 2004 and is held every two years.

Japan defeated Canada in the world championship finale of the VII WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2016 in Gijang, Korea.


About USSSA:

USSSA is headquartered in Brevard County, Florida. USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit

USSSA Continues to Make Stadium Upgrades

Kissimmee, FL-May 3, 2017- USSSA continues to move forward with upgrades to USSSA Space Coast Stadium.

This Wednesday, workers began installation of the Pro Grass artificial turf on the main field at USSSA Space Coast Stadium. When all is said and done 1.4 million square footage of Pro Grass will cover all 15 fields in the new complex.

The first six fields, including the main stadium are expected for completion by mid-July of this year while the remaining nine fields are expected to be completed later this fall.

All fields will sport the latest Musco lighting technology as well as several media facilities with the latest broadcasting capabilities for all youth and professional games.

USSSA National Headquarters will be moving to Viera, FL next week Tuesday, May 9th in preparation for the 2017 summer.

One of the first events hosted at USSSA Space Coast Stadium will feature a National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) match-up between the USSSA Pride against the Akron Racers on June 8th, it will be the USSSA Pride’s first home series match-up at the new complex.

For more information visit

About United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) is a non-profit sports organization that serves as the governing body for 13 amateur sports across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Originally founded in 1968 as the United States Slow-pitch Softball Association, the USSSA has flourished for over 50 years as a hub for youth and amateur athletics. With over 3.5 million members, the USSSA is one of the largest amateur sports organizations in North America.

Brevard tops Volusia in bid for sports group USSSA

A national amateur sports association that was considering Daytona Beach for its new home likely will be moving to Brevard County instead.
That move will include the various tournaments the United States Specialty Sports Association holds that draw thousands of people every year.
Brevard County commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding Tuesday with USSSA – a Kissimmee-based organization that governs about a dozen sports. That agreement calls for Brevard to spend $10 million in improves to the Space Coast Stadium complex in Viera, including constructing four new synthetic turf baseball fields.
In return, the USSSA will enter a 20-year lease with the county and guarantee 75,000 hotel room nights in its first full year of operation, and 100,000 room nights by its third year, according to the memorandum. The next step is a formal contract to be negotiated between Brevard and USSSA.
Construction of the new fields is expected to begin in mid-2016 with the goal of being ready by early 2017.

Read More via News Here 

5 things to know about Space Coast Stadium deal

Brevard County commissioners last week approved a lease agreement with the U.S. Specialty Sports Association, under which the USSSA will move its headquarters from Kissimmee to Space Coast Stadium in Viera.

Under the 20-year lease agreement, the USSSA will bring at least 175 days a year of sports events to the Space Coast, initially focusing on youth baseball, and youth and adult softball.

The association said it will guarantee at least 75,000 room nights of hotel rentals in its first full year of operation, increasing to 100,000 room nights by year three.

Among other things, the county will reimburse the USSSA for up to $10 million in upgrades to the stadium complex, including 10 new artificial-turf fields, adding artificial turf to existing fields and adding lighting.

Brevard commissioners vote 4-1 to approve lease for Space Coast Stadium

Here are five things you should know about the deal:

•When will redevelopment of the Space Coast Stadium complex begin, and when will the U.S. Specialty Sports Association hold its first tournament there?

Don DeDonatis, chairman and chief executive officer of the USSSA, said the timing of USSSA’s move into Space Coast Stadium will depend in part on the Washington Nationals timeline for moving its major league baseball spring training operations out of Viera.

The Nationals plan to hold spring training in West Palm Beach, beginning as early as 2017.

•What about the Brevard County Manatees, another current tenant of the stadium?

The Class A minor league team presented Brevard County officials with a proposed five-year lease for “priority use” of Space Coast Stadium from April 1 to Sept. 30.

But County Commission Chairman Robin Fisher told commissioners the terms of that deal did not compare favorably with the USSSA plan, partly because the Manatees did not offer a room night guarantee.

DeDonatis said he is willing to work with the Manatees management, but has not yet had a conversation with them.

County Commissioner Trudie Infantini indicated that she isn’t convinced a deal will be worked out.

“I don’t understand why we’re throwing out the Manatees with the bath water,” Infantini said during County Commission debate.The Manatees have been looking for alternative sites for their baseball home

•Why was County Commissioner Curt Smith’s support so important?

According to county legal staff, the way the deal between Brevard County and the USSSA was structured, it needed approval a “super-majority” vote of at least four of the five commissioners to pass.

Infantini was against the deal. So Smith’s vote was needed for the lease agreement to be approved.

During Thursday’s County Commission discussion, Smith — whose County Commission district includes the stadium complex — said he wanted to try to keep the Manatees in Viera because “they’re an asset to the community.”

Smith also wanted to make sure the contractors on the job are providing a good price so the tourist tax money “is spent well and spent wisely.”

With assurances from DeDonatis, Smith said he could support the project.

•Why is a stadium lease deal with a nonprofit organization like the USSSA crucial to Brevard tourism?

Brevard County Attorney Scott Knox said, if the stadium is not used by a professional sports team or a nonprofit organization, the county’s 5 percent Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals expires, and would require a public referendum to be reinstated.

Money from the Tourist Development Tax is used for marketing the Space Coast to tourists, beach renourishment, tourist visitor centers, marketing of cultural events, sports promotion and upgrades to the Brevard Zoo.

The tax raised $10.06 million in the budget year that ended Sept. 30, 2014, and is expected to raise $11.45 million in the current budget year, according to Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Eric Garvey.

•Where is county’s share of the money for stadium complex upgrades coming from?

Most of the money for the county’s share of the stadium complex improvements will come from budget reserves contained within the county’s Tourist Development Tax account. Currently, the reserve account totals $6.6 million and is expected to increase to about $8.8 million by October 2016.

The rest would be financed with borrowed money paid off through future tourist tax revenue. Fisher said the borrowing would not exceed $5 million.

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 and Follow him on Twitter @ByDaveBerman and on Facebook at