In the late fall of 2017, Lisa Maulden finished a 27 hour journey from Budapest, Hungary to Auckland New Zealand to begin her 5th season playing professional fastpitch softball overseas with the Western Magpies of the Auckland Premier League.
“Thankfully I only have to do it once every six months, but it is all part of the job,” beamed Lisa during a brief 5 day stop in Brisbane, Australia to visit her former host family when she played for the Southside Stingers during the 2016-17 winter.
The power-hitting utility player out of Seattle University first took her career overseas in 2015 to play in Austria, returned to Europe in 2016 to play in Belgium and then again in 2017 to Hungary after her winter ball season with the Stingers.
“I was fortunate enough to run across IBC (International Baseball Community website) and learn about opportunities overseas. That is why I am here today. Learned about an opportunity, I took it, ran with it and haven’t look back since.”
Lisa now works for IBC as the Softball Recruitment Manager and is set to return to Europe in 2018 to play in the Netherlands.
University of Albany grad Victoria McFarland is currently wrapping up her second season overseas in Adelaide, Australia where she has made a major impact for the Port Adelaide Magpies.
After finding her way to Germany for the 2017 season to play with the Munich-Haar Disciples, Vicky signed up for a membership with the IBC website which landed her with the gig in Australia and most recently she has signed to play in Italy for the 2018 summer.
“The best advice I can give to girls graduating and considering playing overseas is DO IT! You will not regret your choice. Many people graduate college and feel pressure to start a career right away. The best thing I could of done was travel and continue playing. This is an experience you won’t be able to have again. I have learned things about myself, about people, and about other cultures I would never be able to learn without travel. Traveling forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do things I never thought I would be able to. I would tell any softball player that has the opportunity to play abroad to absolutely do it.”
“Traveling forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do things I never thought I would be able to” – Victoria McFarland
Paige Crawford (Hawaii Pacific) and Allyne Clark (Iona College) both signed up for an IBC membership as a pair in late 2016 which led to their first stint together on the same team in the Czech Republic and on a tournament team at Finkstonball.
Allyne, Paige’s personal catcher and best friend, had a different response to the same question.
“It’s been everything I expected and more. Playing overseas has been the perfect mix of ball and travel. I’m getting great life experience, as well as seeing places I never ever dreamed of, all while playing ball. It’s amazing.”
After their European experience, the two girls signed on to play in New Zealand for the 2017-18 winter and it is evident through their social media posts that they are having the times of their lives. Although both clearly enjoy the travel and playing the game, the pair were in agreement on what is the most rewarding thing about playing overseas.
“I love giving back to the sport of softball. When I am overseas I not only get to continue playing, but I also get to help grow the game by passing on my knowledge and experience with the youth,” said Paige via email. “Getting to work with young softball players around the world is so incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing better than giving back to the game that’s given me so much,” added Allyne.
“Getting to work with young softball players around the world is so incredibly rewarding” – Allyne Clark
When asked what advice they would give any girls who are currently in their senior year of college softball Allyne summed it up quite well.
“Don’t give it up! If you have any doubts when you walk off the field for the last time as a college player, don’t stop playing. You’ve got your whole life to land the dream job. Do something for yourself first. You’ll never look back and say, “I wish I would have played softball overseas.”
Currently in her 7th season overseas, University of Arkansas grad Chelsea Cohen is the most traveled of our softball members. Her overseas career started in Argentina and has since take her to Austria, Australia twice, Italy, Switzerland and now she is playing in Cape Town, South Africa. During her first stint in Australia she met fellow IBC member and now boyfriend Tyler Krobetzky and ever since the two have traveled together playing softball and baseball.
We took advantage of Chelsea’s vast amount of experience playing overseas to help describe how it is different than in college.
“In the states, although still rewarding, softball at high level can be rather job-like and tiresome. For me, I was able to rekindle my love for the game by playing internationally because of the more relaxed atmosphere and easy going nature of my teammates. It is something they all choose to do because they love to do it. It is fun to relax the mind and just go out and play. I really didn’t have any expectations when starting out, but the balance between softball and time away from softball turned out to be perfect for me.”
“I was able to rekindle my love for the game by playing internationally” – Chelsea Cohen
All business on the field, Chelsea has maximized her free time off the field to experience the world. When asked what she enjoys the most about playing overseas year-round she summed it up with examples that are quite evident in the Globetrotters episodes where her and Tyler have been featured.
“Adventures!!! And the people! And the delicious food. And new cultures. And chasing the summer. It really is a dream.”
On that note, we will end this blog post with some advice from Chelsea and a playlist of her some of the softball adventures featured on Globetrotters.
“If you have any interest whatsoever in traveling and experiencing the world, you should take advantage of those opportunities. Traveling has allowed me to see the world in a different light, and the experience is invaluable. All the things at home that you think will go away (jobs, relationships, etc.) will all still be there for you when you get back.”
For feedback on what your chances are to play or coach softball (or baseball), email your background in the sport to IBC founder David Burns at email@example.com.