Andrew Utting, an Olympic medallist who has worked at high levels in baseball, AFL and cricket, has been appointed Softball Australia’s High Performance Manager.
A former professional baseball player in the Baltimore Orioles organisation who won an Olympic silver medal with the Australian baseball team in Athens, Utting brings a wealth of experience to the role.
The lure of the Olympics played a major part in Utting’s desire to get the job.
“Softball has a pretty good history in Australia,” he said after accepting the position.
“With softball back in the Olympics for Tokyo 2020, you would think that Australia would be in a good position to contend for a medal. That would be a fun experience to be a part of. That was a big part of my interest in the role.
“I think there’s a lot I can bring to the table, and the journey towards Tokyo 2020 will be a challenging experience that I want to be part of.”
Utting, 39, will be based at the High Performance Softball Training Centre in Brisbane once it is established.
At the moment he is the High Performance Manager at Baseball Queensland. He has also been a strength and conditioning coach with the Gold Coast Suns in the AFL and a throwing and fielding consultant with Cricket Australia.
Softball Australia CEO Chet Gray said Utting’s appointment was vital to the success of the Aussie Spirit program in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics.
“It’s a pivotal position in re-establishing and reinvigorating the High Performance Program for the national Open Women’s team going forward,” Gray said.
“Andrew brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in bat-and-ball sports that require similar skills to softball. He will be responsible for establishing and managing all aspects of the High Performance Program for women to make the most of the opportunity we have to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and have success there.”
Utting, originally from Melbourne, was an elite baseball player for more than a decade, playing in professional leagues in North America and Asia as well in the Australian Baseball League and for the national team.
He admits to not having seen a lot of high-level softball, but believes many of the skills of baseball are transferable.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, but I think I can get my head around it relatively quickly,” he says.
“With the Olympic reinstatement for baseball and softball, both sports are going to have to collaborate. Neither sport is in a position where we can afford not to.
“There are certain things that baseball does really well and in other areas, not so much. And softball is probably in the same boat. It has been really competitive in the past, but maybe the more recent history hasn’t been as good.
“They’re usually in the mix internationally so they’re obviously doing a lot of things really well.
“Baseball can learn a lot from softball as well. It makes sense to collaborate. Given my baseball background, I think it will help softball as we bridge some of those relationships.”