This article was written by Australian Women’s squad member Amy McCann
The 2010 IBAF Women's World Cup may still be almost a year away, but after finishing fourth at the past three events, the Australian women’s squad has begun preparations in an attempt to capture an elusive medal.
Twenty six of the country’s elite players recently met in Sydney for an intensive four day Australian Women’s camp held at Blacktown’s Olympic Stadium.
The Coaching staff of John Gaynor (Head Coach/NSW), Tim Ballard (Pitching Coach/VIC) and Dominic Ruggiero (Assistant Coach/VIC) selected the 36-member squad after performances at the 2009 Australian Championships in April.
The squad has a rich blend of youth and experience with ten ‘rookies’, and fifteen members of the team which narrowly missed 2008 World Cup bronze, selected.
It also boasts five players who have competed at all three previous World Cups in Katie Gaynor, Samantha Hamilton, Shae Lillywhite, Amy McCann and Renee Straumietis, providing great experience and leadership.
And whilst New South Wales (Metro) and Victoria make up the majority of selections, exciting talent continues to emerge from regional New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.
The camp began with a series of sprint, endurance and agility tests followed by intense positional training drills.
Specialist sessions were also held with former Minnesota Twin and Australian National team member Glenn Williams, who provided extensive hitting tips and techniques learned during his 15 years of professional baseball.
In addition, former Minnesota twins draftee Jason Pospishil provided base running strategies as utilised by Jon Deeble’s Australian National team.
Two exhibition matches against the NSW High Performance Program were also held, one in front of almost one thousand people.
And as one last test of endurance, determination, and will power, the coaches subjected the players to a beep test prior to training on the final day.
Players have now returned to their home states, where they will continue strength and conditioning programs and commence competition in their respective 09/10 summer leagues.
The coaching staff will finalise the 2010 team after assessing player performances at the 2010 Australian Championships.
At the conclusion of the camp, Gaynor was pleased with the squad’s performance and looks forward to the lead up to the 2010 IBAF Women’s World Cup.
“I think we have the best players that we’ve ever had in this squad, so with our ranking as fourth in the world, there is only up to go from here,” he said.
However Gaynor is aware that his players will have to dedicate themselves to the task ahead if that wish to displace the current top three nations of Japan, Canada and the USA.
“My players also know that they are going to have to work harder than we ever have before, over an extended period from now, to nationals, the world cup and beyond.
“This is the most geographically isolated squad we have ever hard and we also don’t have the luxury of heading into an extended camp prior to the world cup as experienced by other teams.
“So as we head back to our own state programs, it makes it even more imperative that the players take everything they have learned at this camp and put it into practice over the next ten months.”
But despite the differences and challenges, Gaynor is confident of grabbing a medal on the world stage.
“We are only one run off that bronze medal, and I truly believe that taking the next step into the top three is not a task that is beyond us.
“But the next step we have to take is a big one, so that’s why this camp has been hard and a bit different to what they have been used.”