Emily LeMasurier didn’t exactly have a lot of time to digest the good news she got last Friday.
LeMasurier, 17, was getting ready for her high school graduation from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School at the time when she found out she’d be representing the province internationally on the softball field.
The Red Deer native was selected to represent Softball Alberta as part of the Alberta-Hokkaido Softball Exchange that will take place later this summer, one of just 13 players picked for the team and the only Central Alberta representative.
“I’m just really excited to go, I think it will be a great experience,” said LeMasurier, who will turn 18 later this summer.
The Alberta team will practice a few times this summer, before traveling to Japan from Aug. 20-29. The Hokkaido delegation will make a return trip next season, with the group of players staying in contact through the year, in essence, like pen pals.
“Hoping to get some friends in Japan that play softball, hopefully, we’ll stay in touch after,” she added.
The exchange is not purely sports focused, as LeMasurier said she had to write a three-page essay about her sports history, community involvement and some of the reasons she should be considered before even getting a chance to try out.
The application also had to include her association in the development of local softball, coaching or assisting with training camps or teams as well as any knowledge of the game nationally and internationally.
In a release, Softball Alberta says, “The exchanges that take place are designed to foster sport development, friendship, mutual understanding and potential economic development”. The province of Alberta and Hokkaido have had a formal relationship for 38 years.
LeMasurier hopes that long-lasting friendships and maybe a few pointers on the Japanese approach to softball will be some of the takeaways.
“Just to represent our province in another place, learn new cultures and make new friends,” LeMasurier said.
The 17-year-old plans to take a year off next year but continue playing softball in Red Deer. She currently plays with the U19B Red Deer Rage.
“I like the girls in Red Deer, and it’s a good sport because it’s international,” said LeMasurier, who also plays ringette with the Central Alberta Sting.
“You get to go to places like Japan to play softball. With other sports it might not take you out of Alberta.”