Lismore softballer is back on home base

IT has been a jet-setting lifestyle for Lismore softballer Nick Shailes over the past couple of years.

The 23-year-old has been racking up stamps in his passport with monotonous regularity after playing semi-professionally in New Zealand and the United States.

To give you an idea of his busy schedule, Shailes recently arrived back in Lismore at 2.15pm after a 30-hour flight, swapped his softball cap for baseball, and was suiting-up for Redbirds in a game at 2.45pm.

Shailes plays baseball, but he prefers softball, and has been plying his trade in some of the world's best leagues.

He has played for New Zealand club PK in Wellington for the past few years on a fly-in, fly-out basis.

“They would ring me up during the week and say we have a tournament this weekend and can you play,” Shailes said.

“I'd fly out on a Friday, get picked up at the airport and be playing the next day.”

According to Shailes, the New Zealand league is particularly strong and is filled with big-hitting Maori players.

“New Zealand is the best in the world at men's softball,” he said.

“I think that is because when the New Zealand government finds a sport the Kiwis are good at, they pump the money in, like rugby and netball.

“It's more of a power game over there and that's what I like. They throw it pretty hard, and they hit it twice as hard.”

In addition to his playing duties in New Zealand, Shailes has also been challenging himself against players from all over the world at the mecca for men's softball – the United States.

He plays for a team called Townline, which is based about 500 metres away from the famous Green Bay Packers stadium in Wisconsin.

“The league is very strong in the US, that is where the money is,” Shailes said.

“The best teams fly-in the best players in the world and playing in the US is the pinnacle of the sport.”

Another pinnacle for Shailes will be donning the green and gold for Australia at the World Cup in Canada next year.

Until then, he has State League duties in Sydney and will weigh-up whether to return to New Zealand for another playing stint.

  • Far North Coast Softball is gearing up for the 2008-09 season.

Times and grades will remain the same, while this year organisers are hoping to include school teams in junior and senior competitions.

The season will get under way on Saturday, October 11, for senior women and on Friday, October 17, for junior and open men's divisions.

A mixed competition will also run on Wednesday nights.

For more information, clubs will be represented at the Bunnings barbecue this Sunday from 8am to 2pm or you can visit the website www.fnc.softball.net.au



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