Aussie Spirit, the Australian National Women's Softball Team, is one of two squads that have secured medals at all four Olympics which have included softball in the international competition. USA is the only other team to bring home medals from 1996 to 2008. So when news traveled across the globe that Sydney-born Enrico Obletter had suddenly passed after contracting Covid-19 in Italy, the shock and disbelief hit home hard in his native Australia.
On February 23, 2021, the Travelodge Aussie Spirit Facebook page reported: We started another day of Olympic preparation together in Canberra and woke to the news of the passing of Italian National Coach, Enrico Obletter. As the Australian National team, we have had many battles with Italy over the years under the guidance of Enrico and we witnessed first hand his expertise, respect and love for Italian softball and the game of softball in general. We know that Enrico had enormous respect for Australian softball. So, today we honoured you Enrico for your contribution to the game.
Aussie Spirit team captain Stacey Porter said,“When I think of Enrico I think of a passionate man, who would move the earth for his players. To an outsider he may have seemed overwhelming, but what he really did was bring us all together through his gift of connection and love. What Enrico has done for the women’s game internationally is unprecedented and that’s a mighty mark to leave on the world. I will miss my Italian mate, who believed in me enough to give me my first chance to play professional softball. My thoughts are with Enrico’s wife Giovi, his family and the entire Italian softball community."
Teammate Clare Warwick reflected about her memorable time playing softball in Italy and facing opposing manager Enrico Obletter. She said, "While I never played under Enrico, I played his beloved Caserta many times while playing over in Italy. Playing 3rd base I was originally terrified of him, as a youngster he was an intimidating man! But as I got to know him and the more we played and interacted, the more I looked forward to his kind compliments and familiar Aussie accent and as time went on, familiar Italian Australian accent too!”
The Aussie Spirit concluded its Facebook post with a heartfelt message to the Italian softball community and the Team Italy women's softball squad: Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with the Italian softball community at this time.To Team Italia, stiamo pensando di voi. We will see you on the diamond in Tokyo soon where we know that your leader will be in your hearts every pitch.
by Roberto Angotti