A few years ago on a warm sunny August day I arranged to meet up with Amanda Asay and her dad George for a story interview at Citizen field, where they were doing some batting practice to help Amanda sharpen her swing for the upcoming Women’s Baseball World Cup.
By that time, Amanda had already established herself as a star with Team Canada, starting at first base between breaks in the rotation as the country’s pitching ace, and a proven slugger who always seemed to deliver a timely hit that often made the difference between winning and losing on the international stage.
She was Prince George’s shining light in the baseball world and her Women’s Baseball World Cup opponents from the United States, Japan, Australia, Venezuela, Mexico and Chinese Taipei knew and feared what she was capable of achieving when the pressure was on.
Amanda and I took turns batting and fielding while George, her longtime coach from the time she was a little girl, stood behind the cage and served up pitches for us to try to whack over the outfield fence. I never came close, but Amanda put at least a couple balls off the left-field wall and I realized there’s no way I’m going to win this competition. Try as I might, I might have bounced one or two off the turf that rolled close to the wall, but there was no way I could match Amanda’s power.
But it sure was fun trying. Considering Amanda’s long list of achievements on a baseball diamond - the three bronze medals and two silvers she ended up winning at the World Cup, two of those podium finishes as Canada’s MVP, and her silver-medal status in 2015 at the Pan-Am Games in Toronto – I knew I was playing ball with a sports legend. She got in on the ground floor one year after the national women’s baseball program was born, and as an 18-year-old she was flying the Prince George flag as a tournament all-star at the World Cup in Taipei.
Like the rest of the world, news of her death Friday in a skiing accident at Whitewater near Nelson was shocking and devastating. At 33, this extremely bright, friendly, unselfish, classy ambassador for our city was gone forever, leaving everybody whose lives she touched utterly gutted.
No other Prince George athlete impacted her sport at the highest levels to the degree that Amanda did. She truly was a groundbreaker, a role model for other young girls who want to make baseball or any other sport their primary focus to see how far they go. Amanda was six years older than any of her national teammates and she had that quiet authority that commands respect in the dugout and on the field. She was being groomed to become one of Canada’s coaches and it’s a shame she never lived to see it.
She was a generational talent who can’t be replaced and we can only grieve her loss. No doubt, Amanda’s name will soon grace the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame. She’s a shoo-in for both. But a more fitting tribute would be to rename Citizen Field in her honour, to give everyone who laces up a pair of cleats to play there and those who follow in future generations reasons to remember all that Amanda accomplished in her short but brilliant life.