Former Redcliffe softballer Sophie Lawrence says the start to her career in the United States has been an “amazing experience”.
Lawrence arrived at Illinois three days after Christmas having signed for Lake Land College in Mattoon, around 300kms south of Chicago.
The 18-year-old catcher is preparing for the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division One season in the GRAC (Great Rivers Athletic Conference).
Lake Land College had, at the time of writing, played 15 pre-season games – winning eight, losing seven before the conference games started.
“We have travelled to Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida to find warmer weather to play these games,” said Lawrence, who started at Redcliffe Leagues Softball Association nine years ago.
“We are improving as a team each game, so I am very excited for our regional games to begin. So far it has been an amazing but intense experience.
“I have a very busy schedule including college classes, strength and conditioning training and team skills training, but really excited to see my development over the next four years.
“From now until May we are in our main season which means every win counts.”
Lawrence said her biggest goal while state-side was to put in “100 per cent all the time”.
“When I leave America, I want to be able to tell myself I gave it all I could,” she said, “I want to come back to Australia a better player than what I am now.
“I was talking to my coach Greg Nelson discussing my goals and why I am here in America playing softball.
“We came to the conclusion my overall goal is to play for Australia in the Olympics. As long as I continue to work hard every day, this goal is very achievable.”
It will be a far cry from those early days with the Cougars and then Colts at Redcliffe. So too Queensland Under 18s, Under 23s and Heat squad of 2020-21.
Lawrence who also plays “a bit of first-base and outfield”, used Study and Play (USA) to find a college, the company helping create a profile which was sent to colleges.
Lake Land College was one of many to reply and won Lawrence’s signature as it had a “really good reputation for winning and creating elite players”.
Lawrence, who lives in Bracken Ridge but did all her training at Redcliffe, hopes to return to Australia during the summer break in June and July.
She is also completing a pre-dental major and plans to return to Australia after four years and complete a dentistry course at university.
Rugby league fans won’t have to wait much longer for NRL action with the Vodafone Warriors and Melbourne Storm ready to fire up for a pre-season trial game at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Stadium on February 20.…