Kori Waugh prepares to pitch in a game earlier this season. (Special Photo: Claudio Atzori)
Kori Waugh isn’t sure where the sport she loves will take her, but she’s enjoyed quite the ride so far.
College softball was only the beginning for the 2009 Dacula grad, who was an All-Peach Belt Conference player and held multiple hitting records at Columbus State. The 23-year-old (and her sister younger sister Keeli, a Dacula senior) compete for Great Britain’s National Team, an opportunity that opened up because their mother was born in England.
Now Waugh finds herself on Sardinia, a stunningly beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea. She plays for Banco di Sardenga, a team based in Nuoro, not far off the coast, in the Italian Professional Fastpitch League. Her home base is nice, while her road games include trips to places like Milan and Rome.
“It is very different living over here, but it is absolutely gorgeous in some of the places I’ve been able to go visit,” Waugh said. “However, while being here I have had to learn how to drive a stick shift, which has definitely taken some getting used to. I have had to learn some Italian but it’s been a great experience getting to learn and try a new culture.”
The pro softball path was made possible by Waugh’s stellar play for Great Britain in last year’s European Cup. That tournament was played in Prague, not a bad place to see, either.
She pitches and plays center field for Banco di Sardenga, hitting in every game. She eventually hopes to open her own sports facility in the U.S. or work in public relations, but pro softball is the plan for now.
“I would like to keep playing pro ball for as long as I can, definitely for the next few years,” Waugh said.
Who can blame her?
The opportunities with the British National Team keep coming, too. Waugh and her sister will represent England in this year’s World Cup, held in August in the Netherlands. Her team is in a pool with the U.S., Australia, Botswana, Dominican Republic, Italy, Netherlands and Taipei. The top four teams advance to the next round.
“Obviously, our primary goal for the Great Britain women’s team is to win,” Waugh said. “However, we also want the sport of softball to grow not only in Great Britain but throughout Europe. Getting the youth involved and showing them how to play softball is something our coach has made clear that is really important.”
Before joining Great Britain, Waugh has plenty of games left with her Italian league team. The regular season runs through June, followed by the Italian Cup and playoffs.
It’s not home, but it’s an unbelievable journey thus far.
“I miss Georgia very much,” Waugh said. “I come from a very big family, four sisters and a brother, along with three dogs and I definitely have had a large dose of being homesick. I also miss my former teammates very much. But this was an opportunity I knew I would not be able to pass up.”
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.