The Canadian girls’s softball staff has settled in following its arrival in Japan earlier this month for the delayed Tokyo Olympics and is hoping to win a medal within the sport for the primary time.
Backed by supportive hosts within the metropolis of Anjo, Aichi Prefecture, in central Japan, the staff has adjusted nicely to the lengthy journey and COVID-19 countermeasures in place for all foreigners getting into Japan and is tuning up for the six-team event.
Canada will play its first recreation of the competitors towards Mexico on July 21 in Fukushima Prefecture, about two hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen, as softball returns to the Olympics for the primary time since 2008.
Veteran utility participant Joey Lye says the vibe inside the staff is nice regardless of the circumstances of getting to play in a pandemic.
“We’re coping. The truth that we’re right here, and the Olympics are ‘go,’ we’re excited to play,” Lye stated this week. “We’re centered on enjoying and pleased to be right here. For a lot of us, that is our final go along with this staff, so we’re absorbing day by day.”
The 34-year-old Lye says the staff has been lifted by the nice and cozy welcome it has acquired in Anjo, the identical place the staff held a coaching camp previous to the 2018 world championships.
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“Our hosts right here in Anjo are so supportive,” Lye stated. “Even all through the pandemic, they had been posting on social media, saying they could not watch for us to be again.
“Our first recreation, a few days in the past, the mayor of Anjo got here out and stated how supportive he’s of us and that we’re his house staff,” Lye stated. “There may be a number of assist within the space and that has made us really feel at house. Now we have been right here earlier than and skilled right here earlier than, in order that helps as nicely.”
Lye’s teammate, outfielder Victoria Hayward, seconded her opinion concerning the setup in Anjo.
“We have come right here twice earlier than … so we have constructed a reasonably superior relationship with the folks right here and so they’ve simply been superb hosts for us,” Hayward stated. “So they’re serving to us with all of our meals. We’re in a position to go from the lodge to the sector to a particular weight room that they’ve ready for us and again to the lodge.”
There was a minor dustup earlier of their keep, nevertheless, when some staff members posted feedback about a number of the meals they had been served.
Lye stated it was a tempest in a teapot.
“There may be at all times an adjustment after we are touring round. It was a misunderstanding of a submit on social media,” Lye stated. “It was nothing too huge. We’re actually having fun with our hosts right here. They’re offering us with every little thing we’d like. They’re being tremendous accommodating. We’re grateful for every little thing we’re getting, regardless of what might be misconstrued through social media.”
Mark Smith, the coach of the ladies’s staff, supplied an apology on Twitter concerning the matter, noting that there was no intent to offend anyone and that gamers had been simply posting private opinions.
Although followers is not going to be permitted at video games performed through the Olympics, that’s not the case for the warmup video games Canada has taken half in.
“Now we have had a few video games since we’ve been right here, and so they have allowed followers within the stands,” Lye stated. “We had a number of folks observe our follow the opposite day.”
Lye, who was the softball coach at Bucknell College in Lewisburg, Pa., for 3 years, believes the dearth of spectators on the Video games will not be an element.
“The totally different tournaments that we’ve performed in, we’ve performed in so many various environments,” Lye stated. “Now we have performed with 1000’s of individuals within the stands and with barely anyone within the stands. For us, it’s only a matter of specializing in the sport and what we’re there to do, no matter if there are followers within the stands or not.”
Lye and most of her teammates will likely be collaborating of their first Olympics and says will probably be an actual thrill.
“Being part of this program for 12 years and having helped create the tradition that we’ve, it has been a protracted highway to get up to now and an thrilling highway,” Lye stated. “Only a few years in the past, once they introduced the game could be again within the Olympics, it form of rejuvenated this system, and the tradition round softball on the whole.”
Lye famous the squad does have gamers with Olympic expertise.
“Now we have 4 (gamers) who’ve been to the Olympics beforehand, and everyone else has not, so there may be a number of pleasure about it being the primary time for many people and for the 4 who’ve been to rewrite their story,” Lye stated.
Lye’s story is an attention-grabbing one, as she performed each ice hockey and softball at Williams School in Williamstown, Mass.
“I selected my faculty primarily based on the place I may get an excellent schooling, play softball and play hockey,” Lye stated. “In order that allowed me to slender my search and permit me to land on Williams School in Massachusetts.”
Lye admitted her old flame was hockey.
“As a younger baby it was my dream to play for the ladies’s nationwide staff,” she stated. “Rising up I wished to be knowledgeable athlete, for so long as I can keep in mind. The dream was at all times in hockey. The chance simply introduced itself with softball. I like softball as nicely and was in a position to pursue that chance.”
Lye made it clear that Crew Canada desires the gold right here.
“Our aim is to be on the highest of that podium. Now we have labored extraordinarily exhausting to place ourselves able the place that is a actuality. Two weeks from now, that is our hope and dream and our aim.
“I believe it is going to be an especially aggressive event,” Lye stated. “The six groups which are there are all extraordinarily aggressive and have top-notch pitching. Each single recreation goes to be an thrilling one. On the finish of the day, we’re adequate to be on the highest of that podium.”
When requested if household again house has been sending the staff messages of concern, Lye stated that was not the case.
“All we’re getting from house are plenty of messages of assist,” she stated. “For us as athletes, we strive fairly exhausting to not learn or take heed to a number of what’s occurring within the media, and simply keep centered on practising and enjoying.
Joined nationwide staff at 16
“I believe a number of our households are conscious of that reality and they also proceed to feed us with the assist we wish and wish and encourage us by way of it,” Lye stated. “They know that Softball Canada and the COC (Canadian Olympic Committee) will maintain us. They know there are a number of measures in place surrounding this Olympic Video games to maintain Japan and the athletes protected.”
Hayward says the staff is wanting ahead to seeing the Olympic Village.
“I believe we’re excited to see that, however we’re extra simply excited to expertise it collectively,” Hayward stated. “So would not matter what it appears to be like like or what it’s.”
Hayward, who was the youngest participant ever to affix the nationwide staff when she made her first look at 16 in 2009, confessed that one of many issues inside the squad was about espresso.
“We have made positive that there is a good espresso choice. That is one of many huge issues we’re frightened about,” Hayward stated. “However honestly, we have performed in all kinds of environments, so we all know that Japan is prime of the road in every little thing they do, their consideration to element is superior. Every part appears to have a function. They’re so logical. It is simply every little thing at all times is smart while you’re in Japan.”
Lye had a message for all of her compatriots again house which are following the staff.
“We actually recognize everyone’s assist. It has been a protracted 15 months for everyone,” Lye stated. “With the delay of the Olympics, the every day coaching grind has been so totally different and fairly robust. It’s superb to see how a lot assist we’ve from house. Hold it coming and thanks for following.”