St John's softball player steps up to the bat in US
Damien Sklenars is making good strides towards a career in softball.
Last week the 16-year-old St John's College student left for America to represent New Zealand at an International Softball Academy (ISA).
He will train in the United States alongside 16 other Kiwis before flying to Canada where he will compete in a softball tournament.
Sklenars was selected for the academy after playing in an under 17s tournament in February.
He is one of three Hamilton players heading to the ISA.
The sport is literally in Sklenars' blood, with all of his family - mum, dad and brothers - having played.
Sklenars has been playing softball for more than 10 years, and is currently a team member of Fairfield-Otorohanga United.
He plays in the outfield.
All you need is hand-eye co-ordination and a good attitude towards it, Sklenars said.
"In the bulk of the softball season, I train everyday," he said.
"It's always been a part of my life."
His batting ground is the Resthills Softball Park in Glenview and he can have up to three games in one Saturday in the summer months.
However, Sklenars said softball was not that big in New Zealand at the moment, but reckons that people who play cricket could easily swap the bat and play softball.
The ISA will be a new competition for him, with the chance to compete against teams he's never faced before.
It will also be the first time he has travelled overseas for sports.
Sklenars has future plans to continue with softball and wants to start playing baseball competitively.
He said he was looking forward to visiting Los Angeles, the home of his favourite baseball team the Los Angeles Angels.
In between training, the ISA team will visit Disneyland, the Hollywood Boulevard and they'll also catch an Angels game, which was a bonus, Sklenars said.