By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )
Cue the smoke machine, fireworks, loud pumping music, strobe light.……….
It is December 2013 and the announcer walks to the centre of the field and turns on his microphone to get the crowd whipped up to a frenzy.
‘Laaaaaadies and Geeeeeentlemen welcome to the first ever Australian Lingerie Football League game. Please raise the roof as we introduce each Sydney team member into the Allphones Arena. Lets hear a huge home town cheer for your starting Quarterback Renee Straumietis’.
Ok we are back in June 2012 and you are probably wondering who this fiesty, determined, athletic girl is that will no doubt be taking Sydney by storm in 18 months time. Could she be the first Sydney LFL Quarterback? I am betting she is odds-on to be just that!
Renee Straumietis is one of Australias unsung sporting superstars who would no doubt be a household name if she was representing her country in one of the ‘more popular’ sports that get the press and TV time. If you were an Australian baseball fan then her name would jump off the page and smack you right between the eyes.
She began competing in Baseball when she was eleven years old, playing for her local team the Greenway Giants. At the age of seventeen in 2001 she made her first Australian representative team. She was the only NSW player in that squad! Eighteen of them were from Victoria. Two National Championships for NSW were to follow as well as competing in three IBAF World Cups. They were in Canada, Taiwan and Japan.
She was also the first Australian semi pro female baseballer in 2005 when she played in Japan for a Tokyo College team. While in Japan she was living with a fellow Australian baseball star, Amy McCann. Amy said of Renee, ‘As a pitcher, she was one of the hardest throwers in the world, blowing many competitors away with her speed. But it was also her presence given her fitness and her athleticism, that put fear into the opposition before she even took the field!’
When she was at the peak of her powers she was the fastest pitcher in Australia. Her fast ball was clocked at 76mph. No wonder she put the fear of God into the opposition. Infact in 2006 at the Nationals she threw a complete game shutout against Victoria. It is also worth noting that Victoria won the titles on either side of the NSW victory so they were no easy beats.
Of her time in Baseball Renee said ‘Baseball has been amazing and has allowed me to travel to numerous contries. I’d still probably be playing now, but cost and time off work has been a big influence into why I’m not playing representative baseball anymore’.
Her old team mate Amy believes that Renee would still be a huge asset to the National team saying ‘I would dearly love to see her back on the Australian women’s baseball team as she was a great player’.
So what does a girl with a killer arm do when she is looking for the next challenge in her sporting career? Most would consider taming it down and trying out netball or volleyball. Not this focused and determined girl, she thought she would give Gridiron a crack.
Renee joined the Ladies Gridiron League which is a recently established Womens Gridiron League. It all started off with a squad of girls who all came together through word of mouth and have just recently split onto teams which are based at Concord, Sutherland, Newcastle and Bondi. It was during pre season training that Renee and a few team mates heard of the Lingerie Football League having try outs for a Sydney based team.
Last Thursday night she rocked up to All Phones Arena in Homebush to have a bit of fun and see what it was all about. After everyone registered at the door they headed out onto the field and went through a series of warm up drills and exercises with American LFL All Star Liz Gorman. The place was buzzing with nervous energy as Eighty-six girls were put through their paces. The LFL Chairman and Commissioner Mitchell Mortaza was on hand to help spot the talent.
The first drill was to pass the ball and judge the girls on their Quarterback skills. Renee threw her first ball very well however the second ball was a little wobbly so the trainers continued to throw the ball to the next girl. Renee later said ‘the ball was totally different to the ones we have been using at practise, it was so much smaller and way lighter’.
Luckily for Renee they came around on a second loop of the froup and she nailed every single pass. She was the first girl to get the tap on the shoulder to be pulled aside for some extra throwing at varies distances. At the time she thought to herself ‘It’s all happening’.