As she comes up to the biggest summer of her softball career, Emma Entzminger doesn’t let the pressure of the step she’s about to take get to her.
The Victoria, B.C. native has competed on just about every stage that softball can offer, and as she takes the stage on the biggest one yet, she’s resisting the pressure placed on every softball player competing in Tokyo.
The sport is in the Games for the first time since 2008, but it won’t be sticking around. Softball and baseball will be left out of Paris 2024, and although a return is possible for the 2028 Olympics, it would almost certainly be a different generation of players who would represent their countries.
But for Entzminger and her teammates, the rarity of their Olympic opportunity is just another thing that fuels them.
“I think we have a pretty good mindset with it. Pressure is a privilege,” said Entzminger. “Sure there’s pressure that this is the one chance, but I think it’s also just an opportunity for us to make history. Canada has never won gold in softball, and I think that’s our big thing.”
Entzminger is certainly no stranger to performing on big stages. The infielder has succeeded at many different levels in her career, from the PanAm Games to the world championships to her NCAA career, where her name is all over the record books at San Jose State University.
It’s this history of success that gives her belief that Team Canada can overcome the pressure of the moment and win the country’s first ever Olympic gold for softball.
Performing under pressure is certainly nothing new for this generation of the women’s national team, which has repeatedly come up big in the game’s biggest moments, claiming bronze medals at the world championships in both 2016 and 2018.
But as she approaches her next big opportunity at international success, Entzminger isn’t ready to let her past achievements, or what anyone else in softball may think, limit her next steps.
“I think we’ve always been the underdog. I think we’ve always been the nice Canadians,” said the 25-year-old. “Honestly, teams should be scared of us, but I think we’ve done a really good job of sticking to our ball… we’re not the US, we’re not Japan, we’re Canada, and using what we are to our strengths rather than trying to be them… this is us.”
Despite all of the factors that may be weighing on the minds of Entzminger and her teammates in Tokyo, they remain sure that if they play to the best of their ability, they’re a tough team to beat.
“We’re pretty confident. Yeah, we’ve always been the runner- up, third place, we haven’t been at that one or two … but I think teams are scared. I think they know that we’re right there… no one’s going to admit that, but I can imagine that they’re thinking a bit.”
Even for those Olympic athletes that know that they’ll have their chance every four years, the pressure of The Games is immense. But Entzminger feels good about taking this shot with her teammates. “This is the best Canadian team we’ve ever had… we’re very very confident in our abilities,” said Entzminger, citing the reasons that she doesn’t let the enormity of the moment get to her.
“Yeah, the thought runs through my mind, but we’re very good at staying present and it’s a day-by-day thing. The thought of 2028, or the thought of maybe this is my last chance, I think that makes us even more eager and all-in, because you’re not guaranteed the next time.”