Ciara chases Amer­i­can dream

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Ciara Nolan is hap­pi­est when she is sur­rounded by dust, a di­a­mond and swing­ing a bat.

The Whitby 17-year-old plays soft­ball for the Pare­mataPlim­mer­ton club. It’s a fam­ily tra­di­tion and she has grown up with the sport.

Fa­ther Shane is the club’s pres­i­dent, and sib­lings Caitlin and Jayden also play.

Nolan her­self lives and breathes soft­ball.

At the na­tional un­der-17s in Hast­ings last month, Nolan, a sec­ond base and short stop, was named top bat­ter, hit­ting over .500 and earn­ing a place in the tour­na­ment team.

It was bit­ter­sweet, how­ever, with her Wellington side los­ing 5-4 to Auck­land in the fi­nal.

‘‘I was shocked but rapt to make the [ tour­na­ment] team. I was re­ally fo­cused all week and got a lot of hits,’’ she said.

In Au­gust, Nolan heads to the United States on a stu­dent ex­change.

She has no idea where she will go yet, but is hope­ful it will be a high school where soft­ball played.

She has level 2 NCEA al­ready

is and hopes to have level 3 in the bag be­fore leav­ing New Zealand.

Ul­ti­mately, she wants to gain a schol­ar­ship to study and play at an Amer­i­can univer­sity.

‘‘That’s the goal – play soft­ball there, take my op­por­tu­ni­ties and get a big break.

‘‘The game is stronger in the United States, and it will be great for my own de­vel­op­ment to play at that level.’’

It won’t be cheap to fol­low her dream. The stu­dent ex­change comes with a price tag of $14,000.

Fundrais­ing is in full swing and in­cludes a hyp­no­tist show at Plim­mer­ton School, a quiz night and other events.

Nolan said soft­ball was the big­gest thing in her life.

‘‘It’s my ev­ery­thing. Some of my best friends are in soft­ball and it’s a great way to meet peo­ple.

‘‘There’s al­ways dif­fer­ent things to do and learn. I can’t imag­ine not play­ing.’’

March will be a busy month for Nolan, with the sec­ondary school na­tion­als for Aotea Col­lege, and then she will don New­lands’ colours for the club na­tion­als.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Di­a­mond dreams: Soft­baller Ciara Nolan hopes that a stu­dent ex­change to the United States this year will fur­ther her de­vel­op­ment in the sport.

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