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2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: Tragic death of athlete at Whitewater shakes Nelson

Amanda Asay was known as a longtime member of Canada’s national women’s baseball team
Amanda Asay was a longtime player for Canada’s women’s baseball team. Photo: The Canadian Press/HO-Baseball Canada

The death of a national athlete at Whitewater Ski Resort in January led to an outpouring of grief among Nelson’s sports community.

Amanda Asay died after falling into a tree well at Whitewater on Jan. 7. It was the first fatality to occur within Whitewater’s boundary in its 40-plus year history.

Asay was known for her career with Canada’s women’s baseball team, with whom she joined in 2005, won a silver medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games, five World Cup medals and was twice named MVP.

In Nelson, the 33-year-old worked in forestry, played for the Nelson Blueliners hockey team and helped coach young athletes with Nelson Baseball.

Two days after her death, the Blueliners held an emotional ceremony at the Nelson and District Community Complex in Asay’s honour. Her teammate and friend Kath Surbey told the Nelson Star that Asay, who held a doctorate in forestry, had an unassuming personality.

“I’d always brag about her in Nelson when I introduced her to people. You’d never know that she was this brilliant person of excellence until someone else filled you in on the bullet points of her.”

After Asay’s death, the Blueliners and Nelson Red Wings teamed up for a charity game. The event raised approximately $2,300 for a scholarship in Asay’s name.

Then in May, the Toronto Blue Jays and Nelson Baseball partnered to put on a clinic for youth players at Queen Elizabeth Park. The event was coached by current and former members of the women’s national team.

“We’re confident that it would put a smile on her face that she’s putting her stamp on something that was meaningful to her in terms of getting especially girls involved in sports at a young age, and baseball in particular in this case,” said Nelson Baseball president J. Stewart.

More tributes followed as Canadians mourned.

Baseball Canada retired Asay’s No. 19 from the women’s program. The Lower Mainland Baseball Association, where Asay occasionally played, dedicated its entire season to her. Her hometown of Prince George hosted a game in her memory in September.

Baseball and hockey have, of course, continued in Nelson. But the tragedy of Asay’s death lingers on, especially for those who called her a teammate and friend.

READ MORE: COLUMN: Amanda Asay inspired male and female baseball players alike

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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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