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“She was a trailblazer,”: Tributes pour in for Amanda Asay

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File photo of Prince George Product Amanda Asay suiting up for Canada on the ball diamond (Photo supplied by Baseball Canada)

By Brendan Pawliw

One of the best athletes to ever come out of Prince George has left us far too soon.

Tributes continue to come in for Amanda Asay who passed away during a tragic skiing accident in Nelson on Friday at the age of 33.

She was the longest-serving member of Baseball Canada’s Women’s National Team program, (16 years) most notably as a dominant pitcher and first baseman.

Jim Swanson was the Sports Editor at the Prince George Citizen from 1997-2014 who says Asay’s success on the baseball diamond was something to behold – even at a young age.

“She was a trailblazer way back then when I became aware of her, especially a girl making an all-star baseball team. Obviously, that was an interesting story back then because it didn’t happen very often if at all, and it still doesn’t happen that much even to this day.”

Asay participated in the Women’s National Team Showcase last summer in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

In addition, she was part of national teams that captured five WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup medals and also played a key role in Canada’s silver medal performance at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Swanson, a former organizer of the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, believes Asay was a one-of-a-kind athlete.

“For a lack of a better comparison, maybe the Wayne Gretzky of women’s baseball in Canada. She was consistent, she was hard-working, she was a leader, she was looked up to and was outstanding in terms of her play.”

“When you think of it, there are not many athletes that have come out of a great sports town like Prince George that have made the impact on their sport the way Amanda Asay has. Honestly, she may be the greatest athlete to come out of her specific sport in the city of Prince George.”

Andre Lachance coached Asay at the national level as well as internationally since 2005 and stated one performance still stands out to this day.

“The World Cup in 2016, the semi-finals where we played against Taiwan and she pitched a masterful game to allow us to play for the gold medal against Japan right after, is one of the best performances I saw of Amanda.”

“I like to say she was really curious and when you have curiosity you really want to know more about your opponent, always trying to find an edge or a different way to win.”

Asay joined Team Canada as a wide-eyed 17-year-old in 2005 and Lachance recounted her first trip with the team.

“We went to Cuba for the first time and we were stuck in a hurricane. I would imagine that would have been viewed as a rough start when you start your athletic career with the national team.”

Asay also played hockey and softball for Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island for three seasons (2006-2009) while earning a Bachelor’s in Science.

She continued her studies at UBC where she attained a master’s in science and Ph.D. in forestry while playing two seasons for the Thunderbirds hockey team.

Chicago Cubs prospect and fellow PG baseball product Jared Young has nothing but fond memories when describing Asay.

Young told MyPGNow.com while her on-field resume is second-to-none, it was her willingness to develop the next generation of baseball players that should be remembered most.

“She was always doing it out of the goodness of her heart. I probably worked four or five camps with her and she was there before me and she was thereafter me. It kind of speaks to the way she goes about things and it was really cool to see.”

“That’s what makes this so tough. She did so much to help younger kids and to help everybody. I can’t remember Asay ever saying no to any camp or anything like that.”

“That is what is so truly awful about this.”

In 2019, Asay pitched a complete game for Canada during a women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Mexico.

The revered multi-sport athlete also suited up for the Northern Penguins of the South Coast Women’s Hockey League that same year – lighting the lamp three times in a two-game series against the Ridge Meadow Moose.

“Amanda was a one-of-a-kind teammate, the type of player and person who you loved to compete with every game,” said Ashley Stephenson who played 14 seasons with Asay on the national team and coached her for two. “Under the circumstances, I cannot put into words how tragic this loss is for everyone who knew Amanda. My thoughts at this time and my heart go out to her family.”

 

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Chris Balison elected as Baseball Canada President

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OTTAWA – Kamloops, British Columbia’s Chris Balison was elected Baseball Canada President last night at a Special General Meeting of the federation’s board of directors and executive committee.

Balison replaces now former Baseball Canada President Jason Dickson who’s held the role since 2016 until becoming Baseball Canada CEO last August.

“I’d like to congratulate Chris on the honour of becoming Baseball Canada President,” said Dickson. “I’ve had the chance to work with Chris in recent years and look forward to continuing that working relationship with the shared vision of the growth and development on baseball in Canada.”

Balison became president of Baseball BC in 2020 where he also assumed a spot on Baseball Canada’s Board of Directors. He is now the 12th president in Baseball Canada’s 58-year history dating back to 1964.

Amateur baseball has been a big part of Balison’s life who spends his working days as a Crown Prosecutor. He became president of Kamloops Minor Baseball in 2014 helping nearly double the association’s registration numbers, while also ensuring the game is inclusive and accessible by establishing local Challenger Baseball and female baseball programs.

“I thank Jason for his contributions as President and look forward to working with him in his new role as CEO,” said Balison. “He’s left big shoes to fill, but I am excited to lead Baseball Canada in our continued pursuit of excellence and innovation.”

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Baseball Canada

Baseball Canada mourns the passing of Amanda Asay

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OTTAWA – The Baseball Canada family is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of longtime Women’s National Team member Amanda Asay who succumbed to her injuries following a skiing accident in Nelson, British Columbia.

The Prince George, BC native was 33 years young.

Asay was the longest serving member of the Women’s National Team program having joined the squad in 2005 and recently participated in the Women’s National Team Showcase last summer in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

She was part of national teams that captured five WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup medals including bronze in 2006, 2012 and 2018 and silver in 2008 and 2016. She was also part of Canada’s historic silver medal performance at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto – the first time that women’s baseball was included in a major, multi-sport games.

“This is really difficult news for our Women’s National Team program,” said Baseball Canada’s André Lachance who managed Asay on various national teams from 2005-2018. “Amanda was an amazing person who meant a great deal to our program. She was a competitor who possessed all of the characteristics that you look for in a baseball player. She was versatile, intelligent and competitive who rose to the challenge on many occasions.

“Above all, she was a terrific person who will leave a lasting impact on many people, not only with the Women’s National Team program but all of those who were lucky enough to meet her.”

“On behalf Baseball Canada’s Board of Directors and national office, I offer sincerest condolences to Amanda’s loved ones including her parents Loris and George and her brother Brad,” said Baseball Canada President and CEO Jason Dickson. “Her contributions to women’s baseball and our national team will be remembered forever and will serve as inspiration for future generations.”

A talented athlete who also excelled in the classroom, Asay played hockey and softball for Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island for three seasons (2006-2009) while earning a Bachelor’s in Science. She continued her studies at the University of British Columbia where she attained a master’s in science and PhD in forestry while playing two seasons for the Thunderbirds hockey team.

Baseball was her first love however and her talent and hard work caught the eye of Women’s National Team evaluators when she was just 17 years old in 2005. In 2006, playing in her first Women’s Baseball World Cup in Taiwan, Asay earned all-tournament honours at first base and later took home the Women’s National Team Most Valuable Player Award.

She would go on to capture MVP honours again in 2016 but this time it was for her dominance on the mound as she shutdown a powerful Chinese Taipei squad at the Women’s Baseball World Cup in South Korea with a complete game, 2-1 victory to send Canada to the gold medal contest.

Asay was loved by her coaches and teammates alike for her positive attitude and the way in which she went about her business on the field, always being in control and setting an example for others with her play.

“Amanda was a one-of-a-kind teammate, the type of player and person who you loved to compete with every game,” said Ashley Stephenson who played 14 seasons with Asay on the national team and coached her for two. “Under the circumstances, I cannot put into words how tragic this loss is for everyone who knew Amanda. My thoughts at this time and my heart go out to her family.”

“The loss of Amanda is felt in so many places it’s hard to put into words,” added former teammate Nicole Luchanski who also lived and worked with Asay in the forestry profession. “She was a truly exceptional athlete, leader, friend, family member, and forestry professional.

“She improved everything she touched and the loss of such a positive, smart, hardworking, and loyal person is unbearable.”

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Baseball Canada

Alexis Brudnicki named recipient of 2021 Bob Elliott Media Recognition Award

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The Bob Elliott Media Recognition Award is named after Bob Elliott, a former winner (2012) of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award, the highest award given by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Elliott covered both the Montréal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays during a distinguished career that spanned four decades, but it’s Bob’s long-lasting contributions to Canadian baseball and raising the profile of Canadians in the game and telling their stories which has resulted in this award being named after him. The Kingston, Ontario native’s Canadian Baseball Network website has been a go-to source for information for years from Canadian baseball sandlots all the way to the big leagues. When a Canadian reaches the majors, chances are the Canadian baseball community read about them years earlier via Elliott and the Canadian Baseball Network. His coverage of Canadian prospects eligible for the annual MLB Draft has been must read material for years while his annual Top 100 Most Influential Canadians in Baseball list has provided deserved recognition for many year-over-year. It’s through Bob’s work that he’s forged relationships across Canada allowing him to tell great Canadian baseball stories to this very day.

An individual who has provided unparalleled coverage of Baseball Canada’s National Teams and athletes for over a decade, Baseball Canada is thrilled to announce that London, Ontario’s Alexis Brudnicki is the recipient of the Bob Elliott Media Recognition Award for 2021.

After landing an internship at Baseball America in 2011, the Centennial College Sports Journalism graduate covered the Baseball Canada National Teams Awards banquet for the publication which ignited her passion for covering Canadian baseball.

That banquet was also the beginning of a connection between Brudnicki and Elliott that has spanned the last decade.

“I read Alexis before I met her,” remembers Elliott. “The first story I ever read was her Baseball America coverage of the Baseball Canada fund raiser. Her story was much better than mine. I contacted her and she agreed to write for the Canadian Baseball Network for about a decade before moving to MLB.com.”

Brudnicki’s love of covering Baseball Canada’s National Teams and telling the stories of its athletes have taken her virtually around the globe.

If it was an indoor workout to speak to Canada’s next crop of draft-eligible players, a three-day camp at Rogers Centre to catch the Junior National Team training before an international event or catching up with the Women’s National Team in Québec City before participating in the 2015 Pan Am Games, Brudnicki would stop at nothing to cover these teams and athletes.

“For a self-starter like Alexis huge assignments seemed routine,” added Elliott. “One spring Alexis told me she would write a piece about each of the 14 Canadians in the Jays minor league system AND all 34 players with the Junior National Team, who were there maybe 10 days. I told her flatly she could not accomplish it … Alexis filed 33 stories on the junior team players and upon returning home wrote No. 34. Amazing.”

Brudnicki’s exceptional story-telling abilities have landed her roles with Baseball America, MLB.com and two stints as Press Officer with our Women’s National Team program covering tournaments in Japan and Mexico. She was also a valued member of the Toronto Blue Jays game day operations as a statistician and scoreboard operator.

Never one to sit idle, Brudnicki has run several marathons and is currently in her first year of studies at the University of Missouri’s School of Law.

Past Bob Elliott Media Recognition Award recipients have included:

2020-Mike Wilner (ON)

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