Without a job commitment for the winter, Jaret Chatwood figured it would be a perfect time to see some of the world.
And to make his travels more interesting, the Red Deer Riggers veteran decided to play some baseball with the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.
“It’s something I’m excited about,” he said. “I didn’t have any kind of job I was interested in this year, so I felt it was a good opportunity in my life to travel and I took it.”
Chatwood had discussed playing in Australia with several of his teammates — Josh Edwards, and Dustin and Chad Northcott. He used their connections and when the offer came, he quickly accepted.
“I talked with the Northcott brothers and Josh and they said it was a great experience and something I’d enjoy. Everything I’m told is that the people are great and it will be a great experience,” said the 25-year-old, who has a teaching degree and worked in Airdrie last winter and Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School the year before.
“I still have (my degree) to fall back on and so I don’t have to worry about what I’ll do after coming back,” he said.
Chatwood leaves on Sept. 16, with the season running from October to March.
“It’s good that I get a month or so off after our season and then a month or so after coming back. It gives me some time off.”
Chatwood won’t be paid but does get a job, his airfare, housing and a car paid for.
“I’m going to be an assistant coach and work some odd jobs around the field,” he explained. “It’s good. It’s just part of the game.”
Chatwood is one of the more versatile players on the Riggers. He plays mainly at catcher and third base, but can play a number of the infield and outfield positions and can even pitch if needed.
“They were looking for a utility player (in Melbourne) and it worked out in that I can do the things they need.”
Chatwood, from Innisfail, grew up playing in the Red Deer Minor Baseball Association, mainly as an infielder and pitcher. He attended Colby College in Kansas as an infielder, but switched to catcher his second year. He then attended university in Montana and was a regular behind the plate.
“It’s worked out so I can play a number of positions.”
Chatwood is also one of the top hitters on the Riggers.
He doesn’t feel there will be much adjustment from the Sunburst Baseball League to the Australian League.
“From what I’ve been told, it’s about the same calibre,” he said. “I feel I won’t be blown away. This league prepares me as we’ve faced several guys who have played pro ball. We also faced (former pro) Mike Johnson, who pitched in the World Baseball Classic.”
Chatwood has been with the Riggers since graduating from midget and has seen his game continue to grow.
“Playing here has been good for me — I’ve grown into myself. I’m not so mental with myself and my game. I take it one game at a time and it’s worked out fine, all around.”
The Riggers have one of the premier senior teams in the country. They just won their second straight Sunburst Baseball League and provincial title and are competing at the nationals in St. John’s, N.L., this week. They’ll also compete in the 2015 nationals.
“We have a team that works well together,” said Chatwood. “It seems like every guy we add buys in and fits in.”
Chatwood has played in the Canadians before, but is looking forward to competing with his own team.
“It’s great to go to the nationals, no matter when, but going with your team and your buddies makes it special,” he said.
Then he can start concentrating on heading to Australia. Right now he can’t say how many years he may look to go south for the winter.
“No snow will be nice, but I understand if you go more than two years you need a professional visa. When I return, I’ll look at the jobs available and if nothing comes up, I’ll take it from there and see what happens.”