Dorothy Richardson, a three-time All-American and NCAA Softball Player of the Decade for the 1980s, has also distinguished herself in medicine--with a significant assist from Adelphi University.

by Stephen Levine

“Adelphi University was a great place to me. It helps inspire the gifts God’s given them to make them feel special”–Dorothy Richardson, M.S. ’88

At 10 years old, Dorothy “Dot” Richardson knew she had a great arm after a Little League coach saw her practicing with her brother on a baseball field in Orlando, Florida. This happened the year before Title IX—the federal civil rights law passed in 1972 that prohibited sex discrimination in education and athletics—and girls were not allowed to play Little League baseball. Still, the coach was ready to put her on the team and call her “Bob.”

Dot was not willing to do that. Later, while she was practicing on a bigger field with a friend, Cindy Brown, another coach approached her.

“I saw it was a woman and this shocked me,” Dot recalled. “She asked if I ever played softball. I said, ‘No, what is that?’ She told me it was just like baseball except the ball is a little bigger. I finally felt like I belonged.”

While Dot found her athletic niche in softball, Cindy became the first girl ever to play Little League baseball in 1972.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Ms. Richardson, a member of the National Softball Hall of Fame. “The evolution of women in sports took decades, but the world has changed in a positive direction. I now get to see my brothers accept their daughters’ wonderful God-given gifts.” 

Ms. Richardson’s gifts were not limited to softball. The three-time All-American and NCAA Softball Player of the Decade for the 1980s has also distinguished herself in medicine—with a significant assist from Adelphi University.

After earning a bachelor’s degree at UCLA, she found the opportunity she needed at Adelphi’s Garden City campus. Head coach Janet Ficke ’59 and associate head coach Kathryn Raub ’79 invited her to be an assistant coach of the softball team while pursuing her master’s degree in exercise physiology in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education.

Being an assistant coach at Adelphi gave Ms. Richardson the freedom to continue playing for the U.S. national team. But after earning her M.S. at Adelphi and then a medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1993, her athletic career appeared to be over.

Dr. Dot, as she is known, began a five-year orthopedic residency program at the University of Southern California/Los Angeles County Medical Center. But the lure of playing for the first-ever U.S. Olympic softball team at the 1996 Atlanta Games was strong. She soon realized she could achieve both dreams…with a little help.

The hospital board granted Dr. Dot a two-month summer vacation in 1996, allowing her to win a gold medal as a middle infielder with Team USA. The 1997 Babe Zaharias Award winner as female athlete of the year helped Team USA repeat as gold medalists at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Before becoming a full-time orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Dot got a healthy dose of the celebrity treatment. She met President Bill Clinton at the White House, appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and was honored in a parade at Walt Disney World in her hometown of Orlando.

“Sports teaches you to live in the moment, something that applies in surgery and the field,” she said. “I learned how to shift focus after years of playing softball at the highest level because of this.”

Today, Dr. Dot is the executive director and medical director of the National Training Center (NTC), a $3.5 million facility at South Lake Hospital in Clermont, Florida. The NTC opened in August 2001 as a health and wellness facility.

Each year, Dr. Dot hosts the NTC Spring Games, which features softball, lacrosse, soccer, track and field, swimming and triathlon. The event boosts tourism and adds $16 million annually to the local economy, she said.

The softball community could use a boost after the International Olympic Committee surprisingly dropped the sport from the Olympics in 2005—a decision that left Dr. Dot “heartbroken.”

“My immediate reaction was one of shock and then disappointment, and eventually it evolved into devastation knowing that girls can’t live out the Olympic dream like I did,” said Dr. Dot, who hopes softball will be reinstated for the 2020 Games.

In the meantime, the woman who achieved her dreams in two markedly different careers will always remember fondly the role Adelphi played in the making of Dr. Dot.

“Adelphi University was a great place to me,” she said. “It helps inspire the gifts God’s given them to make them feel special. Life is incredible.”

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
e –

Phone Number
More Info
Levermore Hall, 205
Search Menu