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Teammates reflect as Asay set to be honoured in hometown

By: Melissa Verge

Lying in a hospital bed in the midst of a painful and debilitating injury, baseball is still at the forefront of Amanda Asay’s mind.

Pain, even that of a badly broken ankle, can’t diminish Asay’s passion. And #19 has a love so intense for every part of the game - throwing, catching, hitting fielding - that it’s quite possibly unequaled by anyone to ever take the field for the Women’s National Team, teammate Kate Psota said.

“I don’t even know if we had somebody more passionate than she was about the game,” Psota said. 

Asay’s biggest concern on the phone with Psota from the hospital wasn’t her broken ankle. It was missing a season taking the field for Canada, she said, who got the call from her back in 2009 with the news. 

“She broke it so bad she had to get plates and screws and pins and surgery,” Psota said. “[And] she was more upset if she was going to miss that summer then she was about anything she was going through at that moment.”

Asay, who her teammates fondly called “Ace” was there from the inception of the Women's National Team (WNT) program in 2005, up until her passing in a tragic skiing accident in 2022. During her career with the team, she helped Canada to three bronze medals and two silver at the Women’s Baseball World Cup. She also helped Canada to a silver medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games. 

She was reliable, versatile, Psota said. They could count on her on the field as a pitcher, a catcher, as a first baseman, and at the plate. And in her passing, her teammates with the Women’s National Team have been there for her. They’re sharing the passion, the intelligence, the strength that was their Ace with the world, and supporting her in her accomplishments which transcended her life. 

Nicole Luchanski and Alli Schroder, who both played alongside Asay, will fly to Prince George for her induction into her hometown Prince George Hall of Fame Saturday (April 6th). Asay will also be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in May, which some of her WNT teammates will also attend.

The Prince George induction is special, Luchanski said, because she truly embodied what it meant to be a Prince Georgian. She was outdoorsy, down to earth, and hardworking. And despite her many accomplishments, and how she changed the lives of many in a life cut too short, "you would never catch her basking in her own glory," Luchanski said. "And I just feel like that's kind of Prince George.”

Her teammates were more than teammates - over the 16 years she played for the WNT, they became close friends, and in some cases, even closer.

“Honestly like she’s like family, she was like family and her family still is,” Psota said.

Off the field, the two made memories together, going on hiking trips, with one trip Psota remembers as “one of the best summer trips ever.” They hiked the backside of Mount Robson in B.C. while Asay was rehabbing from her broken ankle. To keep going, she had to put her ankle in glacial streams along the way, Psota said. She has a picture from that trip up in her home, a fond memory of a beautiful summer. 

As multifaceted as she was on the diamond, that also transcended baseball. She played NCAA softball and hockey, and she had a Ph.D. In Forestry. 

Since her passing, her family started a scholarship in her name at UBC to help female students pursue their studies in Forestry with a shared passion for athletics. Donations can be made here:

Despite being such an intelligent person, she never made you feel less than, and worked to make everyone feel included, Psota said. 

“She would always play things down when you were like ‘how's your Ph.D. going, what are you studying’ she's like ‘oh, more or less just trees talking to one another,’” she said.

That “trees talking to each other” Psota found, was basically groundbreaking research that was going to change the face of the forestry industry. 

Asay worked in the industry with fellow WNT player at the time, Luchanski, even working a couple of contracts together.

They meshed well together as teammates on the baseball field, and as teammates at work, braving the elements, covered in bugs. 

“She was one of my best friends in the world,” Luchanski said.

After putting in a 10 hour day, they’d go back and cook dinner together, and watch a TV show. Well, one of them would watch. Although Luchanski said she would while scrolling on social media, Asay still was putting in work. She would do puzzles, and sometimes read. She had a goal where she was trying to read all of the classic novels, she said. If she wasn’t doing that, she’d be working on notes from the day, or fixing her gear. Or, on one occasion, Luchanski’s gear. She broke her crew's vest that they wore for work, and she came back from days off, and Asay had fixed the buckle. 

“She just had this really ‘figure it out’ kind of mind,” Luchanski said. “And she wouldn't really think twice about helping you out like that just to help the team.”

She was an important support system for whatever team she was on, including when it came to new talent on the WNT. 

“Wherever she went she made the place better and she made the people better,” Stephenson said, who played with Asay on the WNT for more than a decade.

Asay took Alli Schroder under her wing when she first started playing for Canada, a strong and successful veteran helping a young and promising talent. 

She taught her a lot in the five years she knew her, Schroder said, who first met Asay in a playing setting as a 14-year-old at an identification camp in Cuba.

“Honestly, I’m sure a lot of people would say this, she's the greatest teammate that I’ve ever had,
 Schroder said. 

In the beginning of her career, she struggled with the mental side of the game, and Asay helped her through it. She was always there to pick her teammates up, and instill confidence, ingraining it in Shroder’s mind that she was a strong athlete, and she was there for a reason. She was the first to praise her teammates, and the last to sing her own praises. 

“Amanda honestly could be having the absolute game of her life and she’s still talking about all of her teammates' successes before hers,” Schroder said.

It’s words that have been echoed by her teammates - she didn’t do it for accolades. She never put herself in the spotlight. She simply was - consistent, passionate, and a teammate that you were lucky to have, and hated to play against, Stephenson said, who played against her when Stephenson suited up for Team Ontario, and Asay for Team B.C. 

Competing with her made you appreciate playing on the same team as her even more, Stephenson said. Having Asay in your dugout meant you knew you had a player who was going to give 100%, 100% of the time. 

“She brought the best out in everybody because you knew she was going to play every single game,” Stephenson said. “She never took a pitch off, she never took an inning off and certainly never took a game off.”

She played the game because she loved it. They were all brought together by that love for the game, and their shared love for Asay, their Ace, has come out of it.

She’s left a lasting mark on Canadian baseball. Although she’ll never physically take her spot on the diamond again, in the two years that she’s been gone, she’s taken the field every time the WNT has. The selfless way she played the game. Her passion. The confidence she helped instill in her young teammates as a veteran on the team.

Ace has left a part of her in all of them. 

And Saturday, she’ll take her rightful spot in the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame, followed by the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in May.

“I think everybody loved Ace,” Stephenson said. “She's a huge loss for our program, for the people and for what we can produce on the field. 

“But she's one of those people that she'll always be with us,” she said. “And she made everybody better.”