Even in this digital age, it can be difficult to get information about Australian softball players competing overseas. But family, friends and fans of Clare Warwick don’t have that problem.
Warwick, vice-captain of the Aussie Spirit and a regular player in Italy, has taken matters into her own fingers. She has produced a high-quality, well written and informative blog that is updated regularly with her thoughts and experiences in Italy or wherever she happens to be at the time.
Warwick started the blog, which she calls Blood, Sweat and Diamonds, Diary of an Australian Softballer, not as a self-promotion tool but rather as a way to keep other people informed.
Like several other cash-strapped players, Warwick set up a GoFundMe page to help with her travel expenses. “I managed to get all the money I needed in a few days, and I thought the blog would be a good way to give something back to all the people who supported me,” she says.
Warwick, 29, has just arrived in the USA to join her Spirit teammates ahead of the World Cup in Oklahoma City and the World Championship in Surrey, British Columbia. As Spirit vice-captain and shortstop, she is expected to be a key figure in Australia’s medal chances.
Head Coach Fabian Barlow has enormous respect for Warwick. “Clare is a really high-quality player who has played multiple positions and who has been a critical member of this team for a long time because of her versatility, work ethic and the passion she brings to each training and game,” he says.
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“She’s a silent achiever; doesn’t say a lot, but when she does say something, everyone sits up and listens. She’s a real leader and leads from the front performance-wise, effort-wise and has a terrific team-first approach.”
While the Spirit players are spread throughout the world, Warwick is the only one who plays in Italy. She is based in Legnano, just out of Milan, where she has played for six seasons.
Warwick says she has improved as a player because of her experience in Italy, and before that her time at the University of Hawaii, but she acknowledges that missing training camps in Australia is not ideal.
“The way I prepare, I really appreciate the games in Italy,” she says. “It’s a good way for me to get high-quality games in during the year, instead of being in a Canberra winter.”
She recommends that other Australian players consider following a similar path. “If you’re in a situation where you’re not getting a lot of good-quality games, I’d definitely recommend it. I wouldn’t be the player I am today without having 60 games a year in the college system, and I’ve picked up a lot of good-quality games over here.”
As Spirit vice-captain, Warwick is expected to pass on her experience to younger players. But she says she would do that regardless of her leadership status. “It doesn’t change anything for me, it’s just a title. Everyone contributes their leadership attributes, and I’ll continue to do that whether I am vice-captain or not.”
After Canada, Warwick will return to Legnano to help her team in the Italian Cup, which they won last year. That victory earned the team a trip to the Czech Republic in August to compete against the best club teams in Europe.
Looking further ahead, the prospect of softball being reinstated into the Olympics is an exciting one. “It would be any player’s main aim,” she says. “If softball gets back in the Olympics, it’s a definite goal.”