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Sporting superstar lands softball scholarship in the USA

[by Clarissa Carradine]

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Image: supplied

The outstanding softball skills of Paige Smith have landed her the opportunity of a lifetime with a scholarship in the USA.

 

The 19-year-old sporting superstar recently kicked off her studies and softball training at McCook College in Nebraska. No stranger to success, Paige’s softball career to date has taken her to tournaments around the world.

 

She has represented Australia and Western Australia in Los Angeles and Hawaii in 2016 and Japan in 2018.

 

Paige's sporting prowess has been recognised through a range of sporting accolades over the years, including Perth NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year 2019, Midland NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year 2018, and runner up Perth NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year 2018.

 

Paige said she was happy and excited, if not a little overwhelmed, when she found out she had been awarded the scholarship in America.

 

“I will be able to develop my skills internationally as a softball player and bring this learning back to help my softball community,” she said, adding that the exchange of cultural knowledge was also a massive draw.

 

It was a huge undertaking simply getting to Nebraska, with so many visas and vaccination paperwork to be completed.

 

After three cancelled flights, two extra nights in Sydney, many extra COVID tests, and another five flights, Paige finally landing in Nebraska only to discover she had contracted COVID.

 

This was particularly stressful given she was so far away from her family and had to isolate in her room.

 

Despite the tough start, Paige is throwing herself into her studies and training, with a 5:30am start every day for X-Training and a 5:30pm finish with an ice bath! She also led the McCook softball team to a resounding victory in her first game for the College, helping pave the way to an impressive 28 to 10 final score.

 

Paige is planning to return to Australia in April this year to participate in the National Championships before travelling back to Nebraska to finish her studies and commitment to the McCook Softball team. Her long-term goal is to represent Australia at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles and in 2032 at the Gold Coast games.

 

Paige is also a superstar off the pitch. While honing her sports skills, she also remained focused on her education through the support of the Polly Farmer Foundation’s Follow The Dream program at Swan View Senior High School.

 

The Foundation’s 57 primary and secondary programs around Australia empower Indigenous students to achieve their academic potential and pursue their ambitions. Paige says that without the support of Follow The Dream she would not have graduated and this incredible opportunity in the US may not have come up.

 

She says that as well as the academic support, Follow The Dream helped her develop her leadership skills, which has been a huge asset for her leadership on the softball diamond.

 

“Follow The Dream showed me the importance of my Yamatji/Noongar culture, drawing from the wealth of support from my family and community. The program helped me immensely with achieving good grades and developing confidence in my abilities,” says Paige.

 

While her 2021 gap year was packed with training and interstate softball camps, Paige still found time to return to her school as a tutor for the Follow The Dream program.

 

“The opportunity to give back to my local school and be a tutor has been an absolute privilege.”

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