From Santa Maria to Tokyo: Leah’s Olympic Journey

Below, we share the inspiring story of alumnus Leah Parry (1997). Leah has just been inducted into the School Sport Western Australia Hall of Fame for her contributions to the sport of softball. From a Santa Maria student to the stage of the Tokyo Olympics, her story is one of dedication, resilience, and triumph.

Can you tell us about your time since leaving Santa Maria in 1997

After leaving Santa Maria in 1997 I completed a Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science and a Graduate Diploma of Education. I am currently working at Iona Presentation College as a Health and Physical Education Teacher and have been at Iona on and off for 9 years. I married my husband in 2008, and we have 2 boys, Austin (12) and Tom (6). I have travelled all over the world playing softball. I lived and worked in Vancouver, Canada during a gap year I took after graduating from Year 12. I have most recently travelled with my friend Sarah Tonkin, who I met when I was in Year 8 at Santa Maria. We went to London, Paris and Italy with our families. 

Congratulations on being inducted into the School Sport Western Australia Hall of Fame. Can you share with us what this honour means to you personally and professionally?

It is an honour to be recognised by School Sport WA for my contributions and the impact I have had on softball in WA. I have always been passionate about representing WA with any Australian selection being just a bonus. Professionally, it signifies acknowledgement of my role in advancing sports culture and education within WA.

At what age did you start playing softball and how did you become involved in the sport?

I began playing softball at the age of 7. I grew up around the sport with my mother playing softball and my father playing baseball and softball. 

Can you take us through your journey to become an Olympian at the 2020 Olympics? 

After welcoming my second son, Tom, I returned to represent Western Australia once again. This saw me deliver my most impressive national performance to date, showcasing resilience and determination.

My performance caught the attention of selectors, leading to my inclusion in the Australian team once again. This recognition was accompanied by an individual scholarship, facilitating my return to the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) and providing invaluable support for my Olympic aspirations.

I then ventured overseas to embrace the challenge of competing in the National Professional Fastpitch League in the USA. This experience exposed me to elite-level competition, honing my skills and broadening my perspective on the global stage.

The pinnacle of my journey approached as I was selected to represent Australia in the Olympic Qualifier event held in China. Triumphantly, the Australian team emerged victorious, clinching the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifier title and securing a coveted spot in the upcoming games.

However, adversity struck following the qualifier, as a debilitating back injury sidelined me for six months, predominantly due to stress. Ironically, the postponement of the games provided a silver lining, affording me additional time for recovery and rehabilitation.

The rigorous final phase of preparation was travelling to Japan with 25 Australian athletes for 15 Olympics spots for an intensive three-month training and competition regimen. The culmination of this arduous process arrived with the announcement of the Olympic team, a momentous occasion coinciding with my 41st birthday.

What was your training regimen like leading up to the 2020 Olympics? How did you balance your training with other aspects of your life?

Being a mother of two and working part-time my training regime was very structured. I worked 2 days a week at Iona during the lead-up to Olympic selection and trained 15-18 hours a week. I would try and have one day a week off training but sometimes that wasn’t possible. My youngest son was only three at the time so he wasn’t in full-time school. He would come to the gym at WAIS with me and the batting cages, or I would have to organise a babysitter. My mum was an amazing help during this time. 

Are you still involved in softball, if so, in what capacity?

I currently play in the two highest competitions in Perth, the State League at Perth Softball League and the A grade in the SEMSA competition. 

Can you share any memorable moments or experiences from your time competing at the Olympics?

I’ll never forget playing in my first game, stepping on the field, and becoming an Olympian. It was also my dad’s birthday, so it was very special for me and my family. I also remember looking in the camera during the National Anthem thinking of my family and friends who would love to be there but couldn’t be due to the COVID travel restrictions. My kids loved leaving school to watch the games when they were on.

Off the field, what are some of your personal interests or hobbies? 

Aside from softball, I love playing netball and play at FNA with the St Christopher’s Netball Club. I love going to Pilates and walking along the river. I also love watching my kids play sports. Summer is very busy with baseball, softball, teeball and cricket, and AFL in the Winter. 

What advice would you give to young aspiring athletes who dream of competing in the Olympics or at a professional level?

For young aspiring athletes dreaming of competing in the Olympics, my advice would be to stay dedicated, disciplined, and resilient in their training. Focus on continuous improvement, set realistic goals, seek guidance from experienced coaches, and never underestimate the power of perseverance and passion. Remember that setbacks are part of the journey, and learning from them will only make you stronger. Lastly, cherish the process and enjoy every moment of the pursuit of your Olympic dreams.

Congratulations on your most recent achievement, Leah, and thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us.

Scroll to Top