Jean Tripam’s nearly lifelong love of softball came with more than a few sacrifices, including skipping out on a lot of family functions over the years. Thankfully, her family understood what softball has meant to her. When she asked her sisters if they ever resented her choosing the diamond over family events, her older sister’s response was, “Absolutely not. It’s who you are. You’re a softball player!”
Tripam began receiving notoriety as an outstanding outfielder for Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, earning All-Conference honors her four years on the varsity team. She went on to play at Illinois Benedictine College, where she received All-American honors.
In 1989, she met Steve Gill at one of her college games and was invited to play for Made to Order. She accepted and was a mainstay through 2007 for a perennially strong team. Tripam earned dozens of All-Tournament awards, three gold gloves and a batting title. She was a member of three Illinois State Championship teams, three National Championship teams (1989 Muncie, Indiana, 1999 Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 2004 Blaine, Minnesota). In 2005, Made to Order won the Class B World Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Tripam joined O’Brien’s Painting/Double Vision in 2008 and played three seasons with that team. She earned All-Tournament honors each year (2008 Illinois Great Lakes, 2009 Ohio Great Lakes, 2010 Illinois D State Tournament).
In 2011, Tripam made another move, joining Kaiser’s Pizza/DeMarini/Guiness. During her three years on that team, she was a member of two Class D State Championship teams, two Great Lakes National Championship teams and the 2012 Class D World Series Championship teams at the Wide World Sports Complex in Florida. She was awarded All-Tournament honors at the State Tournament in Rockford and the USSSA World Tournament in Florida.
“I’ve played this game with emotion and love and I’ve always tried to be a great teammate, win or lose,” Tripam said. “I have had the privilege to play with, and against, some of the greatest softball players and coaches ever, and it has blessed me with some lifelong friends on and off the field.”
“I’ve met true pioneers of the game over the years. Players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League would come to the tournaments, have a few beers and tell stories. That’s what I plan on doing as well, passing along wonderful stories to the next generation of slow pitch softball players,” she said.
Congratulations Jean – all your hard work has paid off and welcome to the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame!