Catholic High School softball captain Elliot Tan shows maturity beyond his tender years

It wasn't quite love at first sight.

When he first picked up a softball bat at the age of nine, he was on the pitch only to make up the numbers in his primary school's Co-Curricular Activity.

It turned out to be the start of a new chapter in Elliot Tan's life.

Fast forward to the present, and the 16-year-old Catholic High School student (right) now has both B and C Division team captaincies under his belt.

In March, he led the senior boys to the silver medal in the National Schools Championship.

Reaching the final ranks as one of his proudest moments, even though they lost 9-1 to Raffles Institution (RI).

He said: "When we started (in Secondary 1), there were only three or four players who had experience playing softball. So, to be able to be in the top two after four years is definitely a remarkable achievement."

Elliot is extremely driven. Even during his first year, he already set himself a target of becoming as good or better than his school's B Division players.

He went through the same training routine as his seniors, and sometimes worked even harder on his own.

But he also realised that a team can only be as strong as their weakest link. Therefore, he frequently pushed his peers to train hard.

Elliot would tell his teammates off when he felt they were slacking off. Not even the older boys could escape from his disciplinary watch.

He said: "I was very passionate about seeing the team perform to their highest standards, so I guess my leadership qualities came naturally."

Being vocal in the team caught the eyes of the school's selectors.

Despite his inexperience, Elliot found himself in the starting line-up in Secondary 1, and was appointed team captain the following year.

It was also why he was so determined to repay the faith.

"I always thought there were other players in the team who were better than me in terms of skills and leadership qualities," said Elliot, who played in the shortstop position this year after being the catcher for three years.

"So, my goal was to live up to the high hopes of my coach and teachers."

Elliot attributes his rise to coach Koh Ruoh Jie, who has mentored him since he was in Primary 4.

He said: "Coach knows me like the back of his hand, so he knows exactly how to tailor his support to my personality and that has helped me mature a lot."

Teacher-in-charge Winfred Oh, who oversaw Elliot's development since Secondary 1, described the captain as "a very passionate player".

He said: "His strongest quality is that when the going gets tough, he is able to rise to the occasion and lead the team through obstacles."

Elliot aims to get into the starting line-up of the national youth team by next year but, before that, he wants to ace his O levels.

"I want to do well to get into RI," he said. "They have the best players there and that is where I want to be to further develop myself as a player."

This article was first published on September 17, 2015.
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