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Chappell's fresh start with SA Power Networks
Former baseballer finds success in career change
04/17/2019 8:56 PM ET
Former baseball player Jonathan Chappell poses in The Shed at West Lakes, the home of the Adelaide Crows.
Former baseball player Jonathan Chappell poses in The Shed at West Lakes, the home of the Adelaide Crows. (Tamika Walker/AFC Media)

Jonathan Chappell is the son of an Australian cricket great, but it was his family's link to baseball which set up him for a promising professional career in the American sport.

Recurring injuries forced him into retirement in 2005, at just 25-years-old, and in many ways it took Jon another 10 years to truly find his new path.

In a strange twist of fate it was with Adelaide's major sponsor SA Power Networks and the former Toronto Blue Jays prospect is now a power line technician.

"There is no average day for us; we do the whole lot," he said.

"In summer especially, with three or four days of 40 degrees, high 30s, there's a lot of demand on the network.

"Things start to fail in hot weather when everyone's trying to have maximum electricity at the same time, but this year was amazing, we had relatively few failures compared to previous years."

Working for a company that also supports the sport he loves, Jon understands how important a major sponsor like SA Power Networks is.

"It's impressive seeing one of, if not the biggest private employer in the state, supporting a sport that isn't one of Australia's biggest," jon said.

"For SA Power Networks to support baseball, something Adelaide is very passionate about, through the Adelaide Bite is amazing.

"It filters down to the grassroots level and is just one of many other sports SA Power Networks support and sponsor throughout the State."

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Years before he stepped into his fluro orange top, Jon grew up in one of Australia's greatest cricketing families.

Born in 1980 he caught the tail end of his father Greg's cricket career, and that of uncles Ian and Trevor.

The trio played a combined 265 Tests and One Day Internationals for Australia.

Baseball was also a part of their sporting prowess, beginning with their grandfather Vic Richardson in the early 1900s, and Jon developed a passion.

He was signed by the Blue Jays, playing several seasons in their rookie league system, before shoulder injuries and surgeries began to take a toll on the catcher.

While he battled back from rehab on several occasions it was clear the end would come sooner than later.

"The decision to stop playing was heartbreaking," he said.

"In a way it was depressing, having your childhood dream coming crashing down and realising it was not going to happen.

"But I was happy with that choice; I sat down with my coach on a roadtrip and we had a good chat over dinner.

"When I woke up the next day I didn't fee bad about the decision so I knew it was the right one."

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Life after baseball challenged Jon and almost a decade passed before he found a new career to pursue in 2014.

"I felt like I needed to be physically and mentally stimulated at work," he said.

"At the time I was looking at becoming an electrician but luckily I stumbled across the advert for power line technician with SA Power Networks.

"The apprenticeship challenges you and pushes you out of your comfort zone but the way it's structured, the resources, the knowledge within the industry and your workmates at the depot, it's great.

"My group was quite supportive and we all knew when we understood something we would help out our mate. When you go through four years with 11 other people you form a close bond."

Jon's progress and dedication was recognised in 2018 when he was awarded the Playford Medal as the top fourth-year SA Power Networks apprentice.

"I didn't think I was actually going to win it compared to the other candidates, I was very honoured to have my name called out," he said.

"In some ways it was more for Mum and Dad to show that the kid they raised is having some success in life.

"Amongst my colleagues and peers it was nice to be recognised, and show that the work my depot had put into me had paid off.

"It was rewarding for them and the trophy is sitting in the depot office at Angle Park."

His life now revolves around maintenance on power lines, poles, towers and substations across the state, including months spent on assignment in Ceduna or Kangaroo Island.

The work is far from simple and when storms or heatwaves hit anything goes.

For Jon those challenges make the job even better and he is ready to finally settle down for the long-term.

"Since I was about six, I haven't spent too many years in the same place until now so being here for four, five years and hopefully a lot longer would be perfect for me," he said.

"I see this as a long-term career and I'm probably going to retire in the same spot, the same suburb, and I'm happy with that."

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.