KATLEGO PHEEHA

Jackie van Wyk, second-year BA Human Movement Science student, recently became the youngest player to represent South Africa at the international softball games held in Canada. Perdeby spoke to the softball pitcher about her life, her experience as a softball player and her selection into the national team.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Centurion and went to Hoërskool Centurion.

How old were you when you first started playing softball?

I was 10 years old. I was in grade four playing for the u/11 girls’ team.

How did you get introduced to the sport?

Softball was a sport at my primary school, Laerskool Louis Leipoldt. I continued [playing] it in high school and started playing club softball when I was15 years old.

What is the most challenging thing about the sport from your perspective?

I think the most challenging thing is to focus the whole game. Club softball is usually seven innings, or two hours. The challenge comes when we are at the fifth inning and start to get tired. This is when the most focus is needed.

How did it feel to be called up to represent the country?

It felt great when I heard I was selected. My family and friends were very proud and I felt all my work finally paid off.

Is this something you do part-time or do you see yourself playing professionally for years to come?

Softball in South Africa is part time. You play club, can be selected to represent your province at a provincial tournament, and at the provincial tournament a South African team is selected. I would love to play professional ball overseas.

What did you get most out of the games in Canada?

I learned a lot from all the seniors in my team as well as the other teams. Our team won their first international game against Puerto Rico since, I believe, 1995. The game started after we sang “Happy Birthday” to Madiba. The feeling was great.

What has softball brought to you in both your personal and athletic life?

Softball is what I live for. It gave me friends for life, taught me about commitment, and most of all, it taught me how to fight for what I want in life. Sport gives me a balance in life. If I perform in sport, I usually can achieve my goals in academics as well.

What goals do you have academically and in your sporting career?

I want to go into biokinetics where I can help with the rehabilitation of sport injuries. My softball goal is to go play overseas and learn the most that I can.

Who has been the biggest influence to help you succeed in the sport?

Coaches have been the biggest influence in my sport. I learn what I can from them. From primary school until now, I think about them all. My role model has to be Monica Abbot. She was the pitcher of the American softball team a few years ago. The focus she had on and off the field is what I still strive for.

What was the best advice you were ever given to help you improve your game?

To be patient when trying new things. With pitching you can’t get everything right on the first day. Never think you know everything.

Photo: Provided

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