In one of her first games of cricket as the only girl in a boys’ cricket team, Rachel remembers the taunts.
“A girl is going to open the bowling”, “where are we going to hit it?” or “we are going to score some runs,” emerged from the mouths of boys, some of whom were several years older. She was, and is, a diminutive girl.
Inspired by her idol, Ellyse Perry, with 18 paces to the wicket in the opening ball of Rachel’s first over, they quickly discovered why she would later earn the nickname “The Terminator”. She earned that moniker playing against the Eastlake boys’ team, taking four wickets for 10 runs in four overs. Rachel recalls, “As the only girl in a boys’ team they treated me well, but it took one or two games for them to accept me.”
At 11 years of age, Rachel is already playing for the North Canberra Gungahlin senior women’s team. That takes up her Saturday afternoons. The mornings are occupied playing in the under 12’s Division 1, once again, with the boys. Then there is the ACT Meteors under 15 women’s team, the Southern NSW Academy, and the under 13’s Emerging Meteors.
Forget emerging, from what I can see she has already well and truly emerged.
Rachel’s prodigious talent has already attracted a sponsor in the form of high-flying Canberra Professional Services Consulting firm, Rubik3. The business, which is 50 per cent Indigenous-owned, has a proven commitment to supporting community sport. It also has a focus on promoting women’s sport in 2019 with the message, ‘Girls Can Too!’
This holistic approach from Rubik3 has enabled Rachel to work towards her dream of playing for the Australian Women’s Cricket team.
But Rubik3 is just part of her support network.
To suggest that Rachel’s cricket has become a family affair is an understatement. Weekends in the summer involve a 7:30 am start. They don’t pull up in the driveway at home again until 6:30 at night.
Family holidays these days involve parents, Tony and Laura, and sometimes-reluctant 15-year-old brother, James, heading off to a country centre to watch Rachel play cricket. One year it could be the town of Orange, the next Bowral, the following year Toowoomba. You get the picture.
Tony coached Rachel when she was just eight years of age in the under 12 boys’ team, with brother James. Tony recalls the moment when he told the team that Rachel would be playing, “They were very ‘ho hum’ until they saw her play. They then became distraught if she couldn’t play.”
Rachel’s mum, Laura, reveals that watching Rachel play still brings emotions to the surface. “She is very competitive. I do get nervous. I know she is a great bowler. She’s not as confident with her batting though and it’s nerve-racking if there are older people bowling.”
Laura need not worry; a more mentally tough and determined 11-year-old girl would be unlikely to easily find.
Just ask the boys who pulled her hair in a game of AFL or deliberately bumped into her only to painfully regret it for the remainder of the game.
I didn’t mention that winter is taken up with AFL, just to add to the family’s timetable. And you guessed it; she is the only girl in the team.
In an era where we can finally see sportswomen displaying their remarkable skills on mainstream television, talented sportswoman such as Rachel will be able to be appreciated by us all. She will be part of what is shaping to be a golden era in women’s sport.
Another factor here is the growing emergence of businesses such as Rubik3, committed to ensuring Rachel Carroll has every chance to fulfil her sporting potential. It is through this support and the support of the broader community that developing sportspeople can work towards their goals and influence the generations of young women in the future.