The Victorian U14 Boys, U14 Girls and U16 Girls state teams welcomed Brooke Wilkins, former Australian Softballer and Olympian, on 15th September at Sunshine Softball Association, for discussion on her pathway to international softball and the Olympics, as well as what opportunities and pathways that could lie ahead for these athletes in Softball, within Australian pathways and internationally.
Words & Image: Belinda Ainslie
Brooke shared stories about her own softball career, talking about some of her highlights, but also discussing overcoming set-backs, and how she chose to use such events in her career as motivation to pushing herself forward in the sport she loved.
She spoke of the places she had been and seen, and where elite Softball had taken her, including not only National and International events, including the Olympics, but also educational opportunities such as the opportunity to attend the University of Hawaii for a number of years.
Brooke spoke to the playing group about her experience representing various states around Australia, and advocated for seeking and taking opportunities to play where ever necessary to get the experiences needed to achieve her goals during her career, to ensure her pathway.
Whilst her career was largely focused around her role as a pitcher, she talked about her time and effort she also put into her running speed also, noting that the effort she put into the strengthen her legs for (pinch) running also gave her greater strength in her leg drive when pitching.
Brooke answered questions from the group, including referencing times she had to be open to changes in techniques to seek improvements, and the value of experience with sports science specialists on the development journey.
This topic opened up the discussion also about her current role with Softball Australia, and the Aussie Diamonds program. This program is giving junior Australian softball athletes opportunities to get international experience early in their careers, as well as players getting the chance to work with coaches and specialists from around the country. The players heard about pathways they could aim for to get international experience, including short term opportunities with the Aussie Diamonds, but also long term goals for players wanting to aim for our national teams, the Aussie Steelers, Junior Aussie Steelers, Aussie Spirit, Junior Aussie Spirit, with World Cup and Olympic tournaments on the horizon.
Brooke made available some of her medals achieved as an international softballer, allowing players to see and touch Olympic medals in person, before watching our athletes training and playing a scrimmage game (U16 Girls V U14 boys).
All 3 teams would like to thank Brooke Wilkins for taking this time to come and talk to us, and sharing some of her experiences, and insight into softball pathways for our athletes.