Mim hopes first trip to Japan won’t be her last

Amelia "Mim" Cudicio is working hard to achieve her goal of representing Australia at the Olympics in 2020. Pictures courtesy of Sam Donkin Photography

Mim hopes first trip to Japan won’t be her last

With softball reinstated as an Olympic sport, no wonder Amelia Cudicio is excited.

After all, she’s only 20, has four years to prepare and should be coming into the peak period of her pitching career by the time Tokyo 2020 comes around.

mim3But Cudicio – known to friends, family and teammates as Mim – is taking nothing for granted. She knows there is a lot of hard work and development to be done before she can earn a place in the Aussie Spirit Olympic squad.

She will take the next step in that development when she joins the Spirit for the Japan Cup, which will be held in Takasaki, northwest of Tokyo, next month.

The experience of playing in Japan will surely prove valuable when it comes to Olympic selection, but Cudicio doesn’t expect it to be an easy ride.

“A lot of the girls in the team now are at that age of 24, and I don’t see them stepping down in four years’ time if they’re still at the top of their game,” she says.

“There’ll be a lot of hard work and persistence between now and then. I just can’t expect that at the age of 24 I’ll be stepping into these huge roles that these girls are already in. There needs to be a little bit more than just me thinking I’m going to be ready because of my age.”

Like all other softball players and fans, Cudicio was thrilled when the Olympic announcement was made. “I was so excited. I woke up at 4am so I could get on to Facebook and see the decision. It’s something we’ve been waiting for for a long time.”

Although the Japan Cup will be her first experience with the Aussie Spirit, Cudicio is no stranger to wearing the Australian uniform overseas. She won a bronze medal in 2013 at the Junior World Championship in Canada, and also played in the 2015 Under 19 World Championship in Oklahoma City.

The standard of competition at those events was an eye-opener. “It was definitely a huge step up from the national level that I played over here,” she says. “You can train as hard as you want but it’s always going to be a massive battle against those teams, which I got to experience.”mim cudicio

Players who compete in Japan are often overawed by the intensity of the atmosphere, with raucous crowds and large-capacity stadiums in stark contrast to playing in Australia. But Cudicio plans to go into the tournament without asking too many questions.

“Sometimes I think that the presence of the unknown is better. I’m trying not to think too much about it. I’m not going to do research into the playing conditions or the players I’ll be pitching against. Sometimes I think not knowing might be best.”

Although a Sydney girl through and through, Cudicio has moved to Brisbane to help her development as a player. “I’m living in Queensland at the moment, training with a group of players a couple of times a week plus a lot of individual stuff that you’ve got to be accountable and do on your own.

“As much as I love playing for New South Wales – and I would never change that – I think it’s good to get some experience up here where a lot of the Aussie Spirit girls are playing.

“Change is sometimes good. It’s easy to get comfortable at home, but you have to put yourself in different situations to get better, so that’s what I try to do here.”

The move also puts Cudicio directly under they eye of Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow, who is confident she can handle the step up to open-age international competition. “Mim has been identified in the National Players’ Pathway for some time and her strong junior performances have led to her selection for the Japan tour,” Barlow says.

“Mim is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who moves the ball well and displayed good maturity for someone so young throughout the Down Under and Red Terriers Series back in February. Mim has come through the Under 19 National Program, and the Japan tour is a great opportunity for her to be tested against some of the best hitters in the sport, a challenge I’m confident Mim will take head on.”



The Aussie Spirit team for the Japan Cup

Janice Blackman, Qld Kaia Parnaby, NSW Erin Thras, Qld
Amelia Cudicio, NSW Sam Poole, NSW Taylah Tsitsikronis, NSW
Jemma Freegard, WA Stacey Porter, NSW Clare Warwick, ACT
Sandra Holden, Qld Belinda White, SA
Rachel Lack, NSW Tara Speakman, Qld
Stacey McManus, NSW Gabrielle Plain, NSW