Mel Triulcio became disillusioned with having to travel as far as Sunbury, Sunshine and Mill Park to play the game she loves. She decided to start her own club, the West Coburg Redbacks and in the last two years the club has blossomed. The Redbacks have two senior ladies’ teams and a junior and senior high team competing in the Northern District Softball Association.
Mel has a passion for softball and wants people to be part of a club that has a sense of community. The Redbacks play to win, but they also play to have fun. Here, Mel talks about the challenges and rewards of taking the risk to be her own boss and realise her vision for a sports club that caters to people from a variety of ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes.
PD: Hi Mel and welcome to the www.footyalmanac.com.au
You are the president of the West Coburg Redbacks Softball Club. Can you tell us how you first became interested in softball?
MT: Thank you for your warm welcome Phil. Yes, I am the President of the West Coburg Redbacks Softball Club. Back in high school I realised I was interested in softball.
PD: Why did you choose softball compared to other sports?
MT: Well back in those days there really wasn’t much offered. I gave it a go and enjoyed it, but what surprised me was I was really good at it!
PD: What era are we talking about and what other sports did most girls play in those days
MT: I attended Mercy College Coburg from years 1973 to 1977 gymnastics was offered but I was not going to jump over a horse….I think that’s what it was called! If my mind serves me right (memory coming back) netball, too. However, most played Softball…..unfortunately on concrete grounds!
PD: So I gather there wasn’t much sliding on the concrete? What makes softball a special sport for you?
MT: You would think so! But NO! I have a scar on my elbow from sliding into home plate! Was bleeding and in pain, but still carried on playing, didn’t want to get pulled out. I was really passionate about Softball. Softball was a special sport for me because I found something I was good at and my team mates at the time were wonderful friends. We built a lot of memories!!
PD: Why do you think softball flies under the radar compared to the more popular sports in Australia?
MT: Sadly, softball has been pulled out of the Olympics and clubs and associations are slowly falling apart. The passion and the drive isn’t there at the moment.
PD: And yet you’ve started your own club in the Northern District Softball Association. What was your motivation?
MT: Yes I did. Where I am there are no softball clubs around. I wanted to bring it back to life in Coburg. I had a dream and a vision along with the passion to do it, and it happened. It didn’t happen overnight. It took me 2 seasons to put it together, with the help of a few close friends, but I worked hard and there were many long nights.
PD: You are also affiliated with the cricket and football club at West Coburg. Have they been supportive of softball?
MT: I have been part of the cricket club mainly for 30 years. Not much of a footy fan. They are very supportive. They are excited and opened their arms to the idea of having a softball club in the mix with softball, netball, cricket, football and little athletics. We are now a Sports Club.
PD: What are some of the challenges and rewards of setting up your own sports club?
MT: The biggest challenge was to find people to actually want to join. But when the word got out, it was a bit like if you build it they will come. Finances are always a challenge. Most of the expenses were out of my own pocket, but now things are slowly falling into place. Also having to do things all myself. Now I have a wonderful board that work with me sharing the load. To see that all my hard work is all coming together. Now the Redbacks have kids in the mix. To see their faces light up when they are playing is just wonderful. Very proud seeing kids in my club colours.
PD: Where do you see the club being in five years’ time?
MT: I’m hoping for it to be bursting at the seams. Redbacks as far as the eye can see, with families watching their kids play and also the women. Maybe a men’s team. Hoping we are lucky enough to have a diamond or two in our parks closer to home. That would be awesome. As kids develop, they could possibly represent Victoria or Australia.
PD: What advice would you give to prospective softball players?
MT: To follow your heart. Anything is possible, never give up! To let them know I will do everything I could possibly do for them to follow their dream.
PD: What do we need to do to get more kids and adults to play softball?
MT: We need to put it out there to all schools in our area. Maybe even create a program to introduce kids to it so they can see how much fun it can be. As for the adults that’s different because I find that they don’t commit easily over summer. They’d rather go to the beach than play a sport, but I must say I do have a few loyal ones. I think once they give it a go and see how much fun it is they will keep coming back. That’s a tough one with the adults.I think also I just have to make if more sociable and fun. Working on that.