The last five years, the roster of Canada’s national women’s fastpitch team has been largely unchanged.
Sure, there’s a few new faces on the field each July when the team comes to South Surrey for the Canadian Open – or in previous years, the Canada Cup – but by and large, the team has been lead by a familiar troupe of lead hands.
But when this year’s summer roster was announced last week, there were plenty of relative newcomers on the squad, including Paige Collins, Heather Ebert, Danielle Lopez and Joey Lye, to take the place of missing veterans, including ace pitcher Danielle Lawrie and shortstop Jennifer Salling, both of whom had obligations to their respective teams in the National Pro Fastpitch League.
“There were a few retirements this year, so there’s definitely a few new faces,” said 27-year-old infielder Megan Timpf, a Canadian Olympian in 2008 who has been with the national team since 2005.
“But it’s brought some new energy… and everyone is working together to get better. It’s a great group of girls, and I’m really looking forward to playing with them. They bring a lot of energy, a lot of fun.”
The Team Canada veterans are also doing all they can to help their new younger teammates, Timpf added.
“Theyve been asking question,” she said.
“I remember what it’s like to be a newcomer, and the questions that you have, so the veterans try to help them out as much as we can, and help them feel comfortable.”
The move towards a younger national squad mirrors the vision of Canadian Open director Greg Timm, who said the tournament, now in its second year, is putting the focus on player development, rather than the national teams themselves, as was the case with the former Canada Cup, which from the early 1990s until 2009.
“We’re pretty excited. We’ve tried to change the focus of the tournament a bit. In the past, our focus was Olympics and (preparing for) Olympics. We’re bringing the best players in the world here to compete with a focus of giving back and mentoring young players, to try and re-engergize the sport,” he said, adding that part of that commitment includes having the international women’s squads hosting kid’s softball clinics throughout the tournament.
“It’s been very well received. In fact, we could have had more national teams this year but we chose not to this year.”