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Erika Polidori to represent Canada at Pan American Games

Local NewsErika Polidori to represent Canada at Pan American Games

Erika Polidori from Brantford was one of 16 athletes selected to represent Canada’s softball team at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, which run from October 20 through November 5, 2023.

Softball Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced the team on Thursday, June 22, 2023 and team members representing Canada at the Games include:

Athletes

Erika Polidori (Brantford, Ont.)

Dawn Bodrug (Georgetown, Ont.)

Rylie Crane (Toronto, Ont.)

Emma Entzminger (Victoria, B.C.)

Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, B.C.)

Sara Groenewegen (Surrey, B.C.)

Kelsey Harshman (Delta, B.C.)

Zoe Hicks (Boissevain, Man.)

Kianna Jones (Surrey, B.C.)

Janet Leung (Mississauga, Ont.)

Grace Messmer (Surrey, B.C.)

Callum Pilgrim (Abbotsford, B.C.)

Morgan Rackel (Calgary, Alta.)

Morgan Reimer (Langley, B.C.)

Nicole Rivait (Oakville, Ont.)

Natalie Wideman (Mississauga, Ont.)

The 16 athletes qualified for Team Canada based on their selection by Women’s National Team coaching staff pursuant to the Women’s National Team Selection Criteria. Three open identification camps and a final selection camp were held in June. 

“I am thrilled to represent Canada at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago,” said pitcher Sara Groenewegen. “Getting to wear the red and white at a major tournament like this is always a privilege and I can’t wait to compete with the other 15 women who were named to the roster.”

Team Canada qualified for Santiago 2023 after placing second at the 2022 WBSC Women’s Pan American Championship in November. Canada is ranked fifth in the WBSC Women’s Softball World Rankings. The team won gold at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and captured silver medals at Guadalajara 2011 and Lima 2019. 

Team Canada will bring plenty of experience to the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, as seven of the 16 players won Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in softball, a bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“It is a privilege and an honour to lead this talented Canadian team at the 2023 Pan American Games,” said Kaleigh Rafter, Softball Canada’s Women’s National Team Head Coach and member of the bronze-medal winning Tokyo 2020 softball team. “This team has a great blend of experienced and younger members who are looking to achieve great things in Santiago.” 

This will be Rafter’s first Pan American Games as Head Coach since retiring from play after Tokyo 2020.

Softball will take place October 29 to November 4 (Day 9 to 15) at the Centro de Béisbol y Sóftbol.

“It is so thrilling to see Canadian softball grow and excel, including that historic Olympic medal in Tokyo,” said Christine Girard, Team Canada’s Santiago 2023 Chef de Mission. “Seeing athletes transition to coaching really shows the value of giving back which is so important in sport in Canada. These bonds will for sure positively impact the entire team as this mix of veterans and rookies take on Santiago 2023. I’m truly excited to see so many amazing sport stories!”

Team Canada’s softball team coaches and support staff for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games are:

Coaches

Kaleigh Rafter  (Guelph, Ont.) – National Team Head Coach

Chris Jones (Oshawa, Ont.) – Assistant Coach

Christian Conrad (Fort Worth, TX) – Assistant Coach

Support Staff

Natalie Ghobrial (Toronto, Ont.) – Athletic Therapist

Joey Lye (Toronto, Ont.) – Team Leader

Angela Ballantyne (Ottawa, Ont.) – Manager 

Along with Rafter, fellow Olympic bronze medallist Joey Lye will be playing a different role for these Games. Both alumni will be looking to use their experience on the international stage to help guide Team Canada to a podium finish.

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