They’re no Jamaican bobsled team but three Junior Black Sox from a city without a premier softball team does seem curious.
Upper Hutt trio Tyrell Packer, 17, Kereama Watene-Te Hau, 17, and Jared Gillard, 18, have been selected to represent New Zealand in July at the World Under-19 Men’s Softball Championships in Canada.
All three compete in the premier Intercity and Hutt Valley senior competitions for Lower Hutt clubs with Packer playing for Hutt Valley Marist, while Watene-Te Hau and Gillard play for Hutt Valley Dodgers. Upper Hutt has not had a team in Wellington’s top-flight competitions for some years.
Lower Hutt, which has long been a softball powerhouse, has a single representative in the Junior Black Sox; the Dodgers’ Brad Carson, 17.
Packer was pleased to have been selected and was looking forward to playing in an international level competition. The outfielder comes from a strong softball background and was proud to continue carrying the family mantle.
His dad, Geoff, is a former Hutt Valley rep and plays in the same team with his son at Marist while grandparents Phil and Anne, are Hutt Valley softball stalwarts. Phil played for the Combined Services team and was later an umpire, while Anne was a top-level scorer and has been heavily involved in club-level administration.
Packer and his teammates will be busy over the next few months manning barbecues and organising raffles to raise $7500 each to make it to Canada.