Sam Siddall is a graduate from the Midland University (NAIA) where he spent three years as a relief pitcher with limited action. Post college, in 2013, he was playing in a mens league in Alberta, Canada when a friend presented him with an opportunity to coach youth in Australia after receiving the opportunity himself and having to decline. Sam had some coaching experience but no experience as a head coach at the time. He jumped on the opportunity and soon found himself in Adelaide, Australia with the Northern Districts Reds coaching the U17 and U15 teams while playing for their second division mens team.
Listen to his story here or continue reading
As a relief pitcher with no experience as a head youth coach, this opportunity is a rarity in today’s international baseball market as clubs will often automatically pass up on players with limited college experience, especially if they are a reliever and not a starter. It is this sort of tunnel vision that has left many passionate and knowledgeable players or coaches on the sidelines. Sam’s hiring speaks volumes on the value placed by clubs overseas on a referral from a trusted source. Often clubs feel more comfortable hiring a recommended player/coach then they do a complete stranger found online (This is why testimonials on your profile can be so important!!).
Sam had pretty nice set up with his flights being paid for and set up in a house with others imports for the 2013-2014 season. On top of that, each import was given his own car and was found a job, Sam’s being in demolition.
“Northern Districts were very accommodating,” said Sam of the club’s reception of him.
So accommodating that team members invited Sam out to their cabin on the peninsula and on a ocean fishing trip during the Christmas holidays.
Sam also was able to find some time to travel along the Great Ocean Road, a road from Melbourne to Adelaide that features the Twelve Apostles.
“One of the most beautiful things I have seen,”reflected Sam on the Twelve Apostles.
He also made his way to the Gold Coast and spent some time soaking in the sun at Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay.
Sam found that Adelaide itself had a lot to offer and he considers it to have some of the nicest beaches in Australia. Despite being a more slower-paced city, Sam found plenty of things to do between hiking and beach time.
After the season wrapped up, Sam had an opportunity to go to Sweden for the 2014 summer but opted to take the summer off to return home after being away for 6 months. He had resigned with Northern Districts and decided a summer at home before heading back to Australia was in need.
The main reason Sam was invited back for the 2014-2015 season was because he had taken a “lack luster group” and turned them around.
I jumped right in and the kids responded really well to it. It just took off.
In his first year (2013-2014), Sam took both of his teams to the finals and the U15 team even made it to the grand final, just falling short of the championship. This success translated into the U17 team being promoted to the top division and many of the players making the state team.
Sam returned to Australia for a third year in 2015-2016 to see many of his youth players through to their senior year. He was joined by IBC members Mike Stowers and Marshall Crawford who were fresh off a season playing in the Czech Republic.
After his second year, the 2014-2015 season, Sam decided to give Europe a try and was referred to the International Baseball Community website. He put up a profile and had some hits immediately.
I hadn’t even finished my profile before teams were offering me. It seemed it was more for the coaching aspect.
Sam had clubs in Austria, France and Hungary all interested but it was in Budapest, Hungary where he signed to play for the Budapest Reds (formerly the Sleepwalkers) for the 2015 season. The club from a country where baseball is still in it’s infancy had him coaching all five of their teams, from youth to women’s fastpitch to senior mens baseball while also playing. His plate was quite full but this time he did not have to work for a living as the club compensated him with a monthly salary and 2-3 weeks paid holiday in the middle of the season.
Sam once against found success leading the mens team to a Hungarian championship with the U10 team winning their championship as well.
More than most opportunities to play in Europe, his role with the Reds provided him with ample sightseeing opportunity as the youth program is quite active internationally and the mens team plays in an international league called the Euro Interleague which features clubs from Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia in addition to Hungary.
Through his duties coaching youth Sam has travelled to both Belgium and to the Netherlands and he took full advantage of a trip to Split, Croatia with the mens team to go sailing.
Sam recently stepped off of the plane for his second season (2016) in Hungary, this time both as the head player-coach for the Reds and the head coach of the Hungarian National Team. Sam and the Reds will participate in Finkstonball this summer, an international baseball tournament in neighbouring Austria which features 3 days of baseball and live open air music.