Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Chelsea Forkin Steps Into Justin's World

When the Dallas Charge announced the signing of Chelsea Forkin last fall, many American softball fans' first reaction was 'Who?'. But for fans of the sport down under, it was a familiar name and one that is etched into Aussie softball history.

A 1989 product of Perth, Western Australia, Chelsea is not the only athlete in her family. Her brother played college baseball in the state of Alabama as well as for Team Australia in international competition.

Chelsea played baseball right alongside the boys as a youngster, including representing her nation at the 2004 World Cup of Baseball, among other top-level events. She also suited up for soccer and basketball, as well as softball. As in the US, Chelsea has a career outside of softball, as a high school physical education and geography teacher, as well as a softball coach.

She holds five medals from her tenure on Team Australia on the softball side, including one silver from the 2013 Canada Cup and four bronze medals, including one from the 2011 Canada Cup. In addition to playing for the Charge this season, she will also suit up for her country yet again at the 2016 ISF World Championships in Surrey, Canada.

Forkin is hardly the first Aussie to join an NPF roster, and will be one of a quartet of her countrymen to suit up for a league team in 2016.

Justin’s World: What do you think will be the biggest culture shock in coming to the US full-time?
Chelsea Forkin: Driving on the other side of the road!

Justin’s World: Though you have not experienced it *yet*, what are some of the major differences you are expecting between playing ball in the US and playing in Australia?
Forkin: I think the biggest aspect will be the difference in schedules. Back home in Australia, we only play a game once a week, which is for our local club team. We don’t have the opportunity to play as many scheduled games as the NPF offers which is awesome because I’m looking forward to the big game schedule.

Justin’s World: What factors played into your decision to sign with the Charge and play in the NPF?
Forkin: I felt that they were the right fit for me. Having fellow Aussie teammate Vanessa Stokes on the team made the decision a lot easier too!

Justin’s World: Give me your thoughts on the potential return of softball to the Olympics and what that would mean for the sport as a whole.
Forkin: The return of softball to the Olympic program would just be fantastic for our sport on so many different levels. I think the biggest effect it will have is boosting participation and helping so many young softball players to dream again. It will offer so many more opportunities for the younger generation of players coming through the ranks. I can’t wait to hear of the decision!

Justin’s World: In the NPF, you will also face Team Australia teammate Stacey Porter as an opponent. What will that be like for you? You having played with her, is that going to give your team a bit of a leg-up with insight you can give them?
Forkin: Ports is a longtime friend of mine, so when I found out she signed to play in the NPF, I was stoked for her! It’s also a nice feeling knowing that there are a few of us Aussies getting the opportunity to play professionally in the States. Back in Australia, Ports and I play on different state teams so it won’t be anything different; I’ll just treat the experience the same way as I do back home. Stace is a legend and I’ll do my best with insight, but it’s pretty hard to stop one of the best hitters in the world!!

Justin’s World: What is your favorite moment or memory from your career thus-far?
Forkin: There’s been some pretty special moments and memories made along the way so far, but I would have to narrow it down to when I was apart of the 2012 Australian National Team when we won the Bronze medal at the World Champs in The Yukon, Canada. Another special moment was when I was apart of the Aussie Spirit team that beat the USA for the first time since playing for Australia.

Justin’s World: What are you most looking forward to about playing in the NPF this summer?
Forkin: I’m really looking forward to playing with and against some of the best players in the world in front of some big crowds. I’m looking forward to playing alongside likeminded athletes who live and breath the game. It’s going to be a great season in Dallas!

Justin’s World: What new challenges do you think playing in the NPF will present for you?
Forkin: I’m pretty optimistic about challenges; I’m really just trying to envision how much of a positive experience it’s going to be and how playing for The Charge is going to help me grow as a ballplayer and person. 

Justin’s World: Who is the toughest opponent, either an individual or team, that you have faced?
Forkin: I’ve played against some great players and teams over the years. If I was to narrow down toughest opponent, I would have to go with Ueno from the Japanese National Team – she is fierce, plays smart and with her heart. Phenomenal player.

Justin’s World: What are your long-term plans for the future? Is playing in the NPF something that you would like to do long-term? If softball returns to the Olympics, do you plan to go back to playing for Team Australia sooner rather than later?
Forkin: My long-term plans for the future are to continue playing softball at the highest levels available to me. I would love the opportunity to return to play in the NPF. If softball is re-instated back into the Olympic program for 2020, then that will be a big goal of mine. For the time being, I will continue to take every opportunity I can to play top-level softball. I am also a qualified teacher so my career in teaching is also very important to me.

Justin’s World: Let’s end with my favorite question! Say you were stranded on a deserted island for an undetermined period of time, but you could take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you take?
Forkin: A Hammock, a smart and funny companion, and lots of water. 

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