US tour pays off
NICK Shailes is one of the best men's softballers in the world but for him to stay at the top involves sacrifices.
The 26-year-old Easts Redbirds second baseman has just returned from the International Softball Congress series in the United States where his Jarvis Travellers team won the championship for the second year in a row.
It is about as high an honour as you can achieve as a men's softballer apart from representing your country, which is something Shailes did with distinction in 2009 when he helped Australia win the World Cup in Canada.
But Shailes is battling hard to continue fulfilling his dream.
“I'm travelling overseas a lot and playing softball so to always have to come back and look for a new job makes things hard,” he said.
“But this is what I want to do – I want to keep being right up there among the best softballers in the world.
“It's great to travel overseas and compare your talent against some of the best players in the world and not just on a local scale.
“You don't do it for the money, you do it for the love.”
Shailes' Jarvis Travellers team – a joint venture comprising Ontario and Nebraskan teams, won a thrilling final 5-4 over Chicago/New York in the eight-week tournament.
Shailes, who played third base in the US, was judged the most valuable player at the tournament last year.
He was again among the best this year, being named in the World All Stars team for the fifth year straight.
Jarvis Travellers led 5-0 in the final before Chicago/New York almost won it on the final play of the game – if it weren't for Shailes' cool headedness.
“I got a ball hit to me on the last play of the game and thought ‘Don't screw it up',” he said.
“Experience comes to the fore in those moments and you just worry about getting the basics right.
“You're only thinking ‘catch the ball with two hands and get it to first base'.”
Off the field, Shailes said going to New York's Times Square for the first time was a “real blowout” as well as watching baseball over there.
“Softball really pales in comparison to baseball in the States,” he said.
“Major League Baseball keeps drawing crowds of over 40,000.
Shailes said his next major assignment in softball was making the Australian team for the 2013 World Cup.
Meanwhile, he cannot wait to play in the FNC Major League final series against Norths or Brothers.
“The great thing about Redbirds is my teammates don't care what I've done overseas,” he said.
“They just want me to perform well.”