I always loved being outside playing any kind of sports or doing anything active as a kid, I started playing softball when I was 9 and I fell in love with the game and even though I continued to play different sports for a while, softball soon became my focus.
I started playing club softball, then I made my first representative team when I was 11 and I am currently in preparation to play my 18th consecutive year of representative softball this September.
I was selected in my first junior QLD team when I was 15, it had always been a goal of mine to play for QLD, so it was pretty exciting to achieve that. My biggest success came when I was 20 though when I got selected in the Open Women’s QLD team. Being a part of that team involved a sizeable commitment and for at least 4 months of the year there was a big training load culminating in a trip away to compete in the National Championships. Training involved at least 2 strength and conditioning sessions, 2 team sessions, 2 catching sessions and 1 club game each week. The National Championships tournament involved playing about 20 games in 7 days. On top of all that I was also working (at least 3 days a week) and doing all of my CF stuff.
National Championships were very tiring for my team mates who were healthy elite athletes, so for me it was extremely hard. I learnt that my recovery needs were more extreme in comparison to the others in my team, I needed to eat a huge amount of calories and get as much rest as possible, especially towards the end of the tournament.
To be able to get through all of the training/games I definitely had to be smart and make sure I stayed on top of everything with my CF. I made sure I did all of my nebs, took all of my tablets, did my airway clearance and got enough rest to allow me to stay healthy enough to be able to play. If my health was stable enough I used to schedule my hospital admissions around my commitments, I usually went in for an admission before any tournaments, to make sure I was as healthy as possible. Of course there were times I had unexpected admissions, but I just juggled things around.
When I was younger my lung function was quite good so it was a bit easier to get through everything, when I made that Open Women’s team for the first time I think my lung function would have been about 65%, but as I got older it was generally around 45-50%. There were definitely times I didn’t feel like going to training or didn’t feel well enough, but I used to see it as a bit of a challenge to see how far I could push myself.
Playing sport at a high level means you come under scrutiny of ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority). I made sure that I spoke with the helpline to check every single medication I was taking to see if any were prohibited or restricted. Luckily at that time the only medication I needed a Therapeutic Use Exemption for was Ventolin, it was approved by ASADA, so I just had to make sure I kept it updated. I was drug tested once, I had actually been discharged from hospital about 2 hours beforehand and part of the process was to write down everything I had ingested/taken in the last 7 days, so that took me a lengthy time to fill out.
From the beginning I was always upfront and honest with my coaches about my health, I made sure I kept them updated about how I was feeling. Over the years some of them didn’t know what CF was and they didn’t understand it or know how to manage it, but thankfully most of them took the time to learn a bit about the disease and supported me completely and adapted my training sessions when I wasn’t feeling well.
Between myself, my coach and my CF team we managed to keep my CF under control enough that I was able to compete at the highest level of softball within Australia for 6 years. Everyone was so supportive of me and they helped me work hard to achieve everything.
I absolutely love playing softball, I am fortunate that the game has given me plenty of great experiences and hopefully there are still more to come. It has also taken me all around Australia, I got to play tournaments over in NZ and I even got to go over and play in The Netherlands for a month.