Tyrell Stewart’s baseball prowess is about to carry him on a long but exciting journey from South Hedland to the plains of south-east Colorado in the middle of the United States.
Tyrell, 17, has been offered a National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship to study and join the baseball program at Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado
He is the first Indigenous Australian to be offered a scholarship offered through the Australian USA College Baseball Pathway.
Tyrell’s mother Ayla said she was excited and proud at the prospect of her son continuing his baseball career in the US.
She said Tyrell knows he has a lot of hard work in front of him to make it in the competitive world of college baseball, let alone embark on a professional playing career.
Tyrell started his journey in the sport when he joined the Port Hedland tee-ball competition at the age of 8 and then progressed to the junior baseball league.
Ayla said Tyrell’s recognition highlighted the strength of baseball in Hedland. The local senior competition has four teams and there is a strong junior league. The Hedland competitions have produced several players who have gone on to bigger things in Australia and the US.
Tyrell is now in Year 12 at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth and plays with the Morley Eagles in the State League. He will take up the Otero Junior College place in August next year. Between now and then he will embark on a rigorous program of fitness, diet and mentoring through the Australian USA College Baseball Pathway.
“The pathway scholarship gives him an education and exposure to the way they play the game in the US,” Ayla said. “It’s a great opportunity to meet people and network.”
Tyrell is interested in combining his baseball development with study in the fields of personal training and sports management. After his initial three years at Otero college, there is the potential to be picked up by another college for a four-year post-graduate baseball program.
He is excited about the opportunities the scholarship will open for him, but he is determined to stay humble. “I want to put my town on the map and show the younger kids back home that the sky is the limit and you can do anything if you work hard and never say never,” Tyrell said. “Being the first Aboriginal Australian person to sign a NCAA or NJCAA would be something special to me and would demonstrate to the younger Aboriginal community that you could do anything whilst showing determination and commitment.”
Tyrell comes from a long line of important leaders in the Hedland community. His great grandmother Janet Stewart is a well-known cultural elder having taught the Nyangumarta language in South Hedland Primary School for more than 30 years and continues this work today with Wangka Maya Language Centre. Tyrell’s grandmother Diane Stewart has also spent many years involved in education, teaching Nyangumarta language at Cassia Primary School.
“Our family is really proud of what Tyrell has achieved,” Ayla said. “To us, it is really important to support our kids in their chosen pathway.
“Hopefully, what Tyrell has done will pave the way for other kids here.”
Congratulations Tyrell! The Hedland community will be watching your progress with interest!