Ontario girl, 8, invited to play in all-girls baseball tournament in U.S.

She’s only eight years old, but Ashlynn Jolicoeur is already a superstar on the Canadian baseball circuit.

In 2018, Jolicoeur won the most valuable player trophy for her performance during her rep league semi-finals in Whitby, Ont.

When she got to the finals, before she started playing, Dan Therien, Jolicoeur’s father, said another parent on the team told him that girls shouldn’t be playing baseball and that they should stick to softball.

But in an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday, Jolicoeur said there is no difference between girls and boys when it comes to baseball.

“Girls can do anything,” she said.

“I want to be on Team Canada,” was her response when asked about her dreams for the future.

‘It was upsetting’

Therien said he told the other parent that he would not limit his daughter’s dreams.

“It was upsetting. I was upset, but I did not let that bother me too much because I think some people sometimes are a little outdated in their thoughts,” Therien said.

He said Ashlynn told him: “‘All I want to do is play baseball.'”

“She didn’t let it impact her. She works hard. She’s dedicated and it’s all on her. She wants to practise all the time and wants to play the game,” he said.

Jolicoeur — whose favourite players are Roberto ‘Robbie’ Alomar Velázquez, Kevin Pillar and Freddy Galvis — has not gone unnoticed.

Baseball For All (BFA) — a nonprofit organization dedicated to levelling the playing field for girls across North America by providing them with opportunities to play, coach, and lead in baseball — has invited Jolicoeur to its fifth annual Nationals, the largest and longest running all-girls baseball tournament in North America.

It will be held from July 31 to Aug. 4 in Rockford, Ill.

Jolicoeur says she’s excited to be chosen to participate.

“It’s cool,” she said.

With more than 350 girls participating, the tournament will welcome an unprecedented number of female high school baseball players, organizers say. The age range is seven to 18.

The tournament will also introduce a new 9U division, signalling a marked growth in the interest and participation of girls in baseball nationwide.

“Our organization isn’t just about girls playing baseball. It’s addressing the larger issue of gender equality,” says Justine Siegal, Major League Baseball’s first female coach and founder of BFA.

“Too many girls are still told they can’t play baseball because they are girls. Through Baseball For All and this Nationals tournament, we want girls to know they can follow their passions, that they have no limits.”

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