Candrea says wife would've wanted him to go

Updated: July 26, 2004, 3:58 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mike Candrea will coach the U.S. Olympic softball team next month in Athens, fulfilling the wishes of his wife who died recently while traveling with the team.

Sue Candrea died on July 18 of complications from a brain aneurysm she suffered while the team was in Stevens Point, Wis., on a pre-Olympic tour. She was 49.

"Sue was so excited about the upcoming Olympics and would want me to continue on with our dream," Mike Candrea said. "Our entire family is behind this decision, and we know this is what she would want us to do. We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received over the past week and can't express how much it has meant to our family."

The U.S. team, which will be seeking its third straight gold medal, will leave on Wednesday for Athens, where the Americans will train before facing Italy in their Olympic opener on Aug. 14.

Mike Candrea will be accompanied to Greece by his daughter, Michelle, and son, Mikel.

At his mother's funeral last week, Mikel Candrea remembered her as "the backbone of our family."

Sue Candrea retired as an accountant six months ago to travel with the team.

"She was the one who got my dad going," Mikel Candrea said. "If it wasn't for her, my dad would not be where he is today, no doubt about that."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press