Olympian Yee reflects on Canadian team, Beijing

Some students take time off from school for vacation or community service, Jennifer Yee took a redshirt season to play with the Canadian national softball team.

“It’s such a great experience to travel around the world, and play with the maple leaf on your jersey. As much as school pride is important to me, playing for my country is probably the best feeling ever,” said Yee.

Yee and former Tech standout Caitlin Lever helped lead the Canadian softball team to a fourth place finish at the 29th Olympiad in Beijing.

Yee led her team with a .348 batting average and tied for fifth among all eight teams in the tournament. The returning player went 8-23 with three runs scored, a double, a home run, five RBI and a stolen base.

Lever ranked second on the team in batting average going 6-23 with two runs scored, a RBI and a stolen base.

“In the China game, I had an in-the-park homerun. I guess she dropped the ball and I ended up making it all the way around. That was the deciding run for that game. And just playing China: obviously, the whole community came out and the stadium was packed. Against Australia, it was our last game and it was for the bronze medal. We showed up, but it obviously wasn’t our day,” Yee said.

Australia had a clear advantage in terms of Olympic experience. In fact, every member of the Canadian team was participating in her first Olympic games. Yee managed to hit a single in the final game.

During the pre-Olympic tour, Yee and Lever traveled with the team to participate in rigorous training, to play exhibition games against universities and to compete in international tournaments. The Canadian team received the gold medal in the 2008 International Challenge.

The team played three other national teams at the tournament. Yee tallied two singles in the opening game against Australia, then the red and white had a comeback win against China. Yee helped with an RBI single in the match. In the final game against Japan, Lever started an eighth inning rally over Japan with a single that led to the game-winning run crossing the plate. This game followed an eleven-inning loss to Australia, in which Yee contributed a run and an RBI.

“With Team Canada, softball is my number one priority, and I need to devote all my energy into it. This includes practice, games, workouts and taking care of my body. It seems simple enough, but training at the national level is probably just as emotionally and physically draining as anything,” Yee said.

In early March, the Canadian team participated in the NTC International tournament against the Chinese, Japanese and Australian national and local teams. In the first game, Yee had a triple and later scored the first run of the tournament.

Lever and Yee each singled against Japan, and Yee garnered a hit and RBI against China. Although Yee recorded one of the multiple hits in the game against Japan, the team still fell short and Canada earned the silver medal.

“I’m not sure if I improved skill wise because once you’re there, you’re there and that’s all you got. Just the maturity, it seemed I grew a lot there. It’s an emotional place because there’s so much pressure and you’re kind of in this bubble as far as the [Olympic] Village goes. You’re not allowed out of the Village and you only have one focus and that is softball. Dealing with that is tough. I had problems as the week went on. I think I learned anything that happens during a Tech season will be easy compared to the Olympic experience,” Yee said.

Jennifer Yee has helped multiple teams in her softball career. Last year, she set the school record for most at-bats.

She also set another school record by successfully hitting in 18 consecutive games. Her 2007 totals included 72 runs, nine homers and 81 hits.

In 2006, Yee started her college career off by setting records at Niagara University with a .466 batting average, 62 hits and 39 runs.

Yee looks to bring her experience back to Tech in the upcoming season.