World focus on teen star
ALISHA Prybyszczuk reckons the biggest challenge to achieving her long-term softball goals are battling nerves.
It is not such a major fault when you consider she is 16 and about to represent Australia at the Junior Women's Softball World Championships (Under-19) at Brampton, Ontario, in Canada.
Alisha is the Queensland Times-City of Ipswich junior sport star for April, in the prestigious awards backed by Ipswich City Council.
She has represented Queensland under-17s but was surprised when chosen in the state under-19 team following the state championships at Toowoomba in September.
She was representing Redlands where she plays her club softball for Wildcats.
Alisha played for Eagles in the Ipswich competition before switching to the higher quality Redlands competition.
"I was shocked," Camira-based Alisha said of her state under-19 call-up.
The catcher and shortstop believes it was her communication which earned her selection.
"I'm pretty controlling of the field," she said.
She didn't think she played very well for Queensland at the national titles in Canberra in January when Queensland finished third.
So she was more than shocked when she heard she had been picked in the Aussie team to head to the USA and Canada next week.
"I'm still a little bit in the clouds," she said.
Alisha has been training five days a week with the fellow Queensland members of the national squad since April.
On Tuesday she departs for a national training camp in Sydney where the under-19s will take on the national senior women.
They then fly to Los Angeles for several days when the Australian team will play warm-up matches before heading to Canada for the world championships.
At some stage along the way, Alisha knows the nerves will begin to kick in.
"We've watched a couple of videos of the last worlds and they're pretty full-on," the Woodcrest College grade 12 student said.
"I'll just have to try my best.
"If I don't perform, I will just accept to be part of the team and encourage the other girls."
Given she is the second youngest in the Australian squad, Alisha could be content to use the trip as a learning curve.
But her competitive nature means she wants to be in the thick of the action as much as possible.
Softball runs in the Prybyszczuk family with Alisha's mum Daphne a former player.
But it was her twin big brothers who provided the inspiration for Alisha to get involved.
Both were talented baseballers and one of them, Matt, has just finished a three-year stint playing college baseball in the USA, based in Kansas City.
Alisha will get to see him when she arrives in LA and she wants to tread the same path in the future.
"I'd like to play college ball in the states or professionally in Italy," she said.
"I just have to keep improving, keep going up the levels and try to get as far as I can."
Controlling her nerves when she is competing at the highest level is one of Alisha's most immediate concerns.
"At the 19s at Canberra when I was nervous it didn't help me," she said. "But in Sydney for the Queensland 17s, I was nervous but not showing it."
She did so by keeping in mind the advice from her club coach Maria Caterson: "You have to fake it before you make it".
If she can do that in Canada, Alisha believes she can play a part in what she thinks is a potentially gold medal-winning world championship Aussie team.
"I reckon we can get the gold," she said. "Hopefully I can make a contribution."