One of the feel-good stories of the upcoming Pan Am Games in Toronto is the inclusion of women’s baseball on the athletic calendar for the first time. As host country Canada is a contender for the gold, a victorious outcome may be a coming out party for both the team and the sport, helping propel women’s baseball into the sporting conversation.
Adding to this magical time is second baseman Nicole Luchanski participating in the Pan Am Games Torch Relay. On July 3, which was Day 34 of the Torch Relay, she had the privilege of carrying the Torch during the Calgary Stampede Parade. She was joined by five other athletes during the Parade including wrestler Carol Huynh, women’s hockey competitor (and Calgary Inferno member) Haley Irwin, Canadian national wheelchair basketball member Kendra Ohama, gymnast Kyle Shewfelt and Pan Am medalist in diving, Cody Yano.
Raised in Edmonton, she is one of three Albertans that were named to the Canadian women’s baseball roster. Joining her shall be outfielder Kelsey Lalor (Red Deer) and pitcher Heidi Northcott (Rocky Mountain House). As a side note, all three contributed to Team Alberta’s 2014 victory at the Canadian nationals, marking the first time that the province claimed the gold medal at the Nationals. Taking into account that Edmonton was the host city for the inaugural Women’s World Cup of Baseball in 2004, it served as a source of inspiration for Luchanski, who was in attendance at the historic event.
Two years later, her own baseball dreams would come true, as she not only qualified for the national roster, but contributed to a bronze medal finish. Earning a silver medal at the 2008 edition of the World Cup, she was also the only player to hit a home run in 2012, another bronze medal result for Canada. Having played in five World Cups, one of her unique customs involves getting a photograph with teammate Amanda Asay, who both proudly hold a sign that says “Canada”.
Earning a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Alberta, she is also a volunteer instructor at the Baseball Alberta Girls Winter Camp, helping to inspire other players to follow in her empowering footsteps. As a side note, national team members such as Autumn Mills and Ashley Stephenson have worked as instructors for the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy.