Australia’s elite softball program has taken another step forward, thanks to a recent visit by one of the most successful coaches in US college history.
Tim Walton, head softball coach at the University of Florida, attended the National Championships in Sydney recently and spoke to a group of coaches about how to develop players to perform at a higher level.
Walton spent time watching Australia’s best softball players in action, then passed on his thoughts to Softball Australia High Performance Manager Andy Utting and Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow, as well as answering questions from coaches from around the country.
“Tim was exactly the type of person we were looking for to help us take the next step internationally as we aim towards Tokyo 2020,” Utting said.
“We spent a lot of time together. He is passionate not just about his job in Florida but also with helping develop the sport at international level.”
Walton is best known for leading the Florida Gators to five consecutive appearances in the Women’s College World Series.
After taking over the Gators softball program in 2006, he has compiled an overall win-loss record of 331-80 (.805) as head coach.
Walton had a two-year professional baseball career in the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league system and was an assistant baseball coach before receiving an offer to become an assistant softball coach at the University of Oklahoma.
His background in baseball gave him plenty in common with Utting, who was also involved in professional baseball before making the switch to softball. “It was great to hear him talk about the transition and the subtle differences between the two sports,” Utting said.
“He saw several games in Sydney and was adamant that there is a lot of talent in Australia. Much of that talent is untapped and needs structure and opportunities for players and coaches to improve.”
While his duties in Florida will prevent him taking on a bigger role in Australia, Walton is keen to continue making contributions. “He got off the plane in Florida and was straight on the phone to me, discussing ideas we had talked about while he was here,” Utting said.
“He is the type of guy who has no ego about his own program but wants to share his knowledge and develop the game internationally.
“His knowledge and experience will be invaluable going forward as we take the next step towards qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”