Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Women In Baseball Week

This was the image seen on Monday as Alyssa Nakken stood in the first base coach's box for the San Francisco Giants against the Oakland Athletics. It was a historic moment as Nakken became the first women to be on the field as a coach in a Major League Baseball game. I'll give Giants manager Gabe Kaplan a lot of credit for elevating Nakken's status with the club through this move, but let's hope that other clubs will follow this lead after hiring women to be in more prominent baseball roles within their respective organizations. I'll get to a few of those names in a second, but this moment where Nakken stood alone on the right side of the field should prove that coaches can be of any gender at the Major League level.

Regarding the other hiring in the off-season, the Yankees hired Rachel Balkovec as a minor-league hitting coach, the Chicago Cubs added Rachel Folden as their lead hitting lab tech and coach, and the St. Louis Cardinals brought Christina Whitlock aboard to help develop coaching and scouting talent. Needless to say, four MLB clubs are getting the message that talent wins ball games, not just men.

That brings us to today's topic that crosses into the hockey realm as the Canadian National Women's Baseball Team is made up of some rather amazing ball players who should be in the running for higher-level baseball jobs in Canada or the US if they were to pursue that avenue of employment. Hockey Blog In Canada, though, is more concerned with three players whose hockey skills can't be overlooked when it comes to their on-ice achievements, and that's who I'll focus on today as three of the women play or played Canada West hockey when the country plunged into winter.

We'll start with the woman who has served the longest with the Canadian national squad in Amanda Asay who played with UBC Thunderbirds on the ice. Asay actually played with Brown University in the NCAA from 2006 to 2009 under Digit Murphy before suiting up with the T-Birds from 2010 to 2012 following a transfer back home after an ankle injury, using all five years of U SPORTS eligibility in the process. She recorded two goals and five assists with Brown in three seasons before transferring back home to BC where she joined the Thunderbirds to score 11 goals and nine assists in 48 games. Just as she does for the Canadian national team, Asay plays two positions in hockey as she suited up as a defender for Brown before jumping into a larger offensive role as a forward for the T-Birds. Asay completed her Masters of Science, and has been completing a PhD in the faculty of Foresty studying interior Douglas fir trees at UBC.

On the ball diamond, Asay has been with the Canadian national team since 2005 where she's collected some impressive hardware and accolades. She's collected two bronze medals at the Women's Baseball World Cup in 2006 and 2012 and a silver medal in 2008. She also helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto. She was named as a member of the All-Tournament Team in 2006 at the World Cup, was named the Canadian women's team MVP in both 2006 and 2016, and has twice been named a finalist for the Tip O'Neill Award which is awarded annually to a Canadian baseball player "judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to the highest ideals of the game of baseball" in 2006 and 2016.

Today, Asay is still playing hockey for the Northern Penguins of the South Coast Women's Hockey League while doing research in her field, but I'm not sure the game on the ice will ever supplant the game on the field for Asay. Her success in both sports, though, is a testament to the high-calibre athlete she is!

As we move through the next few days, I'll highlight the other two women who have made names for themselves in Canada West hockey and on the diamond with Team Canada. They're names you're more likely to know being that they're still current Canada West players, but you'll have to come back to find out who those players are!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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