Coming to play college softball in the U.S. was just as intriguing as it was challenging for the trio of Australian players who make up part of the No. 10-ranked Galveston College Whitecaps.
Australian softball players Tallulah Civoniceva, Amaya Foxover and Sophie Lawrence joined the Whitecaps this season and, with the help of GC Head Softball Coach Kelly Raines and their teammates, they have seamlessly adapted to the lifestyle and level of play at a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I college.
“Tallulah and Amaya came on board at the beginning of the fall semester and Sophie joined us this spring from Lake Land College,” said Raines. “They’re a great group of talented student-athletes with an amazing work ethic and we’re excited to have them as part of the team.”
The trio played club softball together and against each other in Australia. And although they didn’t land in Galveston together, they have been tight-knit since youth ball.
Lawrence is one of the newest Whitecaps, having played her freshman season at Lake Land College in Illinois. She reached out to Civoniceva and Foxover during the off-season and the two international Whitecaps brought Lawrence to Raines’ attention, who saw the sophomore catcher’s potential and invited her to GC.
“I’ve only been here three months. I know them (Civoniceva and Foxover) from home, which is good,” said Lawrence. “All the girls were welcoming and there was lots of love straight away. It made my transition easier from my last college to here.”
Now settled into their routine as GC student-athletes, the inseparable trio works hard to excel in the classroom and on the playing field.
“They have a great work ethic,” said Raines. “Our other players see how hard they work and have joined alongside them.”
One of the welcoming challenges the trio overcame is the frequency and intensity of college softball games in the U.S., especially at the NJCAA Division I level.
In Australia, sports are typically not played in high school as they are in the U.S. For softball, players participate on club teams and play once or twice a week and practice the same amount of time. However, Australian players compete against the best players in their age categories, which include Olympians.
Before coming to GC, the three Whitecaps played for the Colts, a club team in Redcliffe, Australia. Foxover and Lawrence also played together for club side Panthers in Brisbane.
“The transition has been pretty good. We only play about once a week there, but here we play and train so often, which is the big difference,” said Civoniceva, who has five home runs and 25 RBIs with a .320 batting average. “I love the routine, waking up, going to class, then the gym and practice. It doesn’t seem like we have a lot of time left over to hang out and relax, but we do.”
Lawrence agreed they had a smooth transition to the college and have adapted to the intense style of play in the U.S.
“It’s completely different. Here, we practice almost every day and play four games a week,” said Lawrence. “The intensity is different. In Australia, it’s not that big of a deal until you get to state or national level games, then it’s really serious. But here it’s intense, we need to win every single week.”
That intensity, coupled with the chemistry Raines’ team has formulated on and off the field this season, has led the Whitecaps to a 28-6 overall record, an 8-2 mark in the NJCAA Region 14 South Zone Division and a top 10 ranking.
“We all get along really well and everyone has the same goal in mind, they want to do well,” said Foxover, who has a .280 batting average. “Everyone backs each other up on and off the field. That’s really important. How the team gets along does affect how they play. Having trust in one another is really important.”
“It feels really good to be ranked,” added Civoniceva. “We don’t act like a ranked team. We’re not cocky about it. Everyone just does their job and that’s what happens when everyone does their job, you get the results that we get. It’s really cool and I’m really happy with that.”
Civoniceva, Foxover, Lawrence and the Whitecaps will be back in action April 12 when GC hosts Lamar State College-Port Arthur in a pair of conference games at 1 and 3 p.m. at the Lassie League Complex.
For more information about the Galveston College Whitecaps softball program, rosters and season schedule, visit https://www.gcwhitecaps.com/landing/index.
ABOUT GALVESTON COLLEGE
Galveston College was founded in 1967 and is a comprehensive community college providing the residents of Galveston Island and the surrounding region with academic, workforce development, continuing education and community service programs.