Nine years ago, Abbey Fortin was an awestruck young girl, looking with wide eyes at members of the Canadian women’s national team program.
Back then, Fortin was one of the hundreds of young girls who took to the ball diamonds at the annual Canada Cup at Softball City in Surrey, playing in the younger divisions of the elite-level competition.
The young girls would be in awe as they saw the world’s best in their sport.
“I just remember finishing my games and seeing the huge crowds and seeing the players and thinking ‘wow, they are so good’ and it would be cool to be one of the 17 girls picked to play for your country,” recalled Fortin.
“I just wanted to get to that level and be one of those girls and have other little girls look up to me and want the same thing.”
Fortin is not the national team level quite yet, but she has taken a big step to hopefully one day achieving that goal.
Last month, the 19-year-old outfielder was selected to represent her country at the 2017 Canada Cup as a member of the Canadian junior national team.
The competition gets underway on Friday (July 7) and runs until July 17 at Softball City in Surrey.
“This is something I dreamed of (but) I never really expected it because of all the great players I have played against at nationals,” Fortin admitted.
“I am really just humbled.”
“This is something I have talked about probably since I was 10 years old,” she said.
“Watching the other girls play at the Canadian Open just made me want to play with Canada across my chest.”
“Great kid, great attitude to the game,” said junior national team coach Keith Mackintosh.
“She has come to camp as an underage before (but) she came into camp this year and had her best camp by far.
“We are expecting big things from her.”
Making the final junior team roster has been a long process, with tryouts going back to over a year ago and the list being whittled down each time until only the final 17 remained.
Fortin said it was a sense of relief in making the team.
It has required sacrifice and dedication, as well as some disappointment, watching friends chasing the same goal getting cut along the way.
“You just realize how much hard work and dedication it takes to make the team,” Fortin said.
The majority of the team is made up of 1999-born players so Fortin hopes that as one of the 1998-born players, she can provide guidance.
“I am hoping I can take a leadership role and maybe help the younger girls, help them have a great experience and teach them a little bit about the game like the older girls have done for me, especially this year at college,” she said.
Fortin, who graduated from Walnut Grove Secondary last year, is coming off her freshman season with the Long Island University Pioneers women’s softball team.
Prior to joining her college team, Fortin was a standout with the White Rock Renegades youth program, winning national championships in 2014 and 2016.
She had a spectacular debut season, leading the conference in home runs with 13 and finishing second in runs scored with 38.
She started all 53 games for the Pioneers and had a .257 batting average, six doubles and a .520 slugging percentage.
Fortin’s play earned her the Eastern College Athletic Conference rookie of the year award.
In addition to spending the next 10 days in Surrey, Fortin will also travel with the junior national team to Clearwater, Fla. later this month for the 2017 WBSC junior women’s softball world championships.
The championships run July 24 to 30.