A decade ago, a teenage New Zealand softball player happened to see a bunch of Australians at a training session. To say the least, she was impressed.
So impressed, in fact, that she decided she wanted to be a part of that program, rather than the one in her home country.
That teenager was Carmelle Sorensen, and these days she is a member of the Aussie Spirit team that is about to take on the world at the Softball World Championship in Canada.
Sorenson, originally from Christchurch, remembers that day she first saw the Australian team in action. “In 2006 I was selected to play for New Zealand, and I watched the Aussie team train and warm up,” she recalls.
“Just their professionalism and the way they carried themselves around the park and what they did, I was like , ‘I want to play for them’.
“I wanted to be more professional. I wanted to train like the Aussies.”
Having made the courageous decision to cross the Tasman, and now with 10 years’ hindsight, is she happy with her choice? “Yes, very much so. I love playing for Australia, I love playing for the Queensland Heat,” Sorensen says.
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“New Zealand will always be home. I love going back and seeing how beautiful it is, but I don’t miss living in New Zealand.”
Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow is certainly glad that Sorensen switched her national allegiance.
“She is a strong overall athlete who has a terrific work ethic and very solid catching skills that will get the best out of our pitching staff,” Barlow says. “Her left-handed hitting power is a real plus for our offence.”
Now an Australian citizen, living in Brisbane and employed full time in workplace health and safety, Sorensen, 26, is grateful to her employers for keeping her job open while she travels with the Spirit. “They are amazing, so supportive of me going away and taking time off,” she says. “I cannot thank them enough.”
After Canada, Sorensen has her sights set on another trip to North America, hopefully for a longer stay. “I’d really like to go and play in the American pro league,” she says. “I think it would be an awesome experience, playing the amount of games they play, meeting new people, being coached by different coaches just to see how they do it, how they see the game and how they teach the game.”
Sorensen hopes to make some connections while in the US and Canada, with a view to being recruited by a professional team for next year. That would put her in the same league as some Spirit teammates, including Stacey Porter and Taylah Tsitsikronis, who play for the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
She also plans to resume her studies, which have taken a back seat to her softball career in recent years. “I’m currently studying through Open University, so I’ll continue to do that when I get back from Canada,” she says.
Also on the long-term radar is the possibility of softball being reinstated as an Olympic sport. If that happens, Sorensen will no doubt be asked to come back to New Zealand and help out the national team. But the Kiwis are likely to be disappointed with her response to any such request.
“I’ll definitely be trialling for Australia,” she says. “Hopefully we get back into the Olympics, and I’ll be pushing to play for Australia and be the catcher.”