Ipswich teenager has sights on Olympics baseball squad
A youngster from Ipswich has hit the ultimate home run by pitching his way into the UK's under 18-baseball squad.
Seventeen-year-old Aidan Pearce was originally born in Walnut Creek, California and came to live in Suffolk four years ago.
He started playing in America at the age of three ‘where the bat must have been bigger than me’ and since then, the sport of baseball has played a big part in his life.
Aside from the under UK under-18 team, Aidan travels to Finsbury Park most weekends to play for the table-topping London Mets in the National Baseball League.
But with a tournament in Italy on the horizon later in the year, nothing quite beats playing for your country according to the Suffolk New College student.
Aidan - who qualifies for the team because his father is English - said: “Previously I’ve played for the UK against Serbia and Switzerland, and now I’m looking forward to taking part in this tournament (in Italy) where I’ll be up against other European nations.
“I feel very proud representing the UK. It gives you a sense of pride and joy to put on the uniform and represent the place where you live. It’s a very cool moment when you hear the national anthem. It gives you energy and passion.”
Aidan hopes that playing for the under 18s may be the start of something bigger as he has his hopes set on playing for team GB at either the 2020 or 2024 Olympic games.
He continued: “2020 is a bit of a stretch (I’ll only be 19) but 2024 is a big dream. It would be amazing. Everyone wants to be an Olympian. To go there and win a medal - that’s a real pride pusher. Just thinking about it keeps me awake at night.”
Aidan plays as a utility player - ‘this means I can pitch, throw and play anywhere’ - and he hopes that the rise in popularity in baseball in this country continues to grow.
He continued: “American football is huge in the UK – I hope the same thing happens with baseball. More people seem interested in the sport since I’ve come to this country. I get the fact that for some, baseball is like marmite. Personally, I love it because it gives me a sense of pride and identity. I just love the game.”
So, do his friends know about his hidden baseball talents – and if so – what do they think?
“Yes, my friends know that I play baseball for the UK and they joke about it and say it must be easy to hit a small ball with such a large bat.
“In reality the ball travels very fast. At my level it’s thrown at around 60mph and at the top level, people can throw it at over 100mph.
“I always say to them - I’ll pitch one and if you can hit it – then good for you. So far no-one has taken me up on the offer.”
Aidan’s tutor at Suffolk New College, Martin Memory, said, “Aidan is a great student. He studies on public services course with us and we always try and instil a lot of pride in our students.
“In this instance, we are incredibly proud of Aidan who is a great ambassador for himself, his family - and of course the college.”