The softball diamond has been the maker of friendships for Softball ACT state player Jarrod Bradbury, but he says it’s what happens away from the diamond that keeps him coming back to the sport.
Jarrod began playing as a five-year-old in a T-ball team his dad started, and he kept developing his game through the sport’s different stages – modball and then softball. He’s grown up with the game and now plays in the open men’s state team with some of the players he started participating with as a kid, and has made lifelong friendships with.
“We all love the game, but it’s the carnivals and tournaments when you can catch up with mates from other states and enjoy a drink that keeps us coming back,” says Jarrod. “Nationals is always an exciting time of year. A lot of hard work and training goes into our state program, but the ability to train alongside world-class players and coaches here in the ACT is appealing.”
Also a member of the Woden Giants in the ACT FastPitch Softball League, Jarrod says softball in the ACT is really lucky to be filled by world-class players and coaches.
“Without such people around, or without the world-class facilities we get to use each and every week, I don’t think I would have become the ball player I am today,” he says.
One of Jarrod’s favourite memories during his 20 years of playing softball was winning his first open Men’s National Softball Championship title alongside his little brother, Jeremy.
“We train so hard for the championships so winning one never gets old,” he says. “Especially when you’ve got family to share it with. Mum and dad shed the odd tear or two that day for sure.”
As a PE teacher, Jarrod says he’d love for softball to have more exposure and for the sport to be as popular now as it was when he was young.
“I have lifelong memories from packed T-ball ovals and Australia Day tournaments that I hope kids of the future can experience for themselves one day,” he says.
“With women’s softball now back in the Olympics and the head coaches of that [Australian] team being from right here in the ACT, exposure for the sport would definitely be a drawcard to our game.”
Jarrod encourages others to give softball a go and says it’s not your “typical” Saturday sport in the sense that it can be enjoyed by all.
“Every time I get the softball gloves out for my students at school they love it because it’s different,” he says. “With pathways available overseas and nationally for both men and women, from National Championships to the Olympic Games, I would recommend softball for sure.”
Softball ACT chief executive officer Ben Kirk agrees with Jarrod that softball is a real community sport and that there’s plenty of friends to be made.
“The opportunity for socialising is huge, and our players enjoy having a drink and some food after every game,” he says. “Softball is a game for everyone. You don’t need to be super fit because the activity is in short bursts with the help of your teammates.”
Softball ACT caters for a range of ages and has modified varieties to suit different skill sets, abilities and preferences. It also offers weekend and midweek participation options.
Ben says softball is safe, accessible and fun to play.
“Softball is considered a ‘low contact’ sport so there are less adaptations we’ve had to implement to ensure our sport complies with COVID-19 restrictions,” he says. “We’re confident of an excellent season this year with plenty of new members signing up.”
The new ACT softball season starts on 17 October. Get in touch with Softball ACT now for help finding a team, or phone 02 6278 3000.