After being sidelined for two consecutive summers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Cup Women’s International Softball Championship is planning to return to Surrey for 2022.
In a news release issued Monday, organizers said they are “thrilled” to announce that the popular tournament will return this year. The tournament is scheduled for June 17-26 at Softball City; in previous years, the event has been held in early to mid-July.
“The response to the return of the Canada Cup has been beyond what we could have expected,” said Canada Cup chair Greg Timm.
“Without a doubt, we will see the very best of the best at the 2022 event. From the top national teams to the elite club teams, we anticipate an incredibly strong tournament across all divisions.
“Additionally, we see the Canada Cup as one of the places where families will be able to gather outside in a safe, distanced environment and have a comfortable day at the park as we transition out of COVID to our pre-pandemic activities.”
The Canada Cup, now in its 25th year, will once again feature multiple divisions – women’s international, Futures (U19) and Showcase (U16) – and is expected to draw more than 1,500 athletes in total.
According to the release, organizers are currently working out the schedule, and details will be released in the coming weeks.
Despite back-t0-back cancellations in 2020 and 2021, Timm has never wavered in his belief that the Canada Cup would return; since the beginning of the pandemic, the longtime softball executive has told Peace Arch News multiple times that it would return when deemed safe to do so.
However, last spring, he did acknowledge that the cancellation of the 2021 event did catch him, as well as the event’s legions of volunteers, by surprise.
“When we started to think about 2021 Canada Cup back in September of 2020, I couldn’t have imagined we were still going to be in this mess,” he told PAN in June 2021. “We thought by January 2021 we’d be in the clear and ready to go, so it was almost surreal to us that this was still happening.”
Canada’s national women’s team has been a staple of the tournament since its inception – the team won the last two women’s international tournaments, in 2018 and again in 2019 – but when the squad returns to the Semiahmoo Peninsula in June, it will look markedly different than what fans are used to.
A number of key players – including former White Rock Renegade Danielle Lawrie – retired following Canada’s bronze-medal winning performance at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, and longtime head coach Mark Smith also retired.
In Smith’s place as manager is former catcher Kayleigh Rafter, who was a member of the bronze-medal Olympic squad. Rafter will be joined on the coaching staff by another recently retired Canadian star, Jenn Salling.