One by one, the teammates of Amanda Asay’s hockey team took a knee at centre ice around her jersey for a moment of silence Sunday evening. Then they each gave the red sweater a fist bump as they skated away.
Asay, who played hockey with the Nelson Blueliners, was a veteran on the Canadian women’s baseball team, and held a doctorate in forestry, died Friday after an accident at Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson. She was 33.
Asay’s parents, Loris and George, were in the stands Sunday at the Nelson and District Community Complex where they were saluted by the Blueliners. Loris said her daughter had moved to Nelson for a forestry job and thrived in the city.
“She loved life. She loved, loved, loved sports.”
Kath Surbey, who met Asay when they were playing hockey together at Brown University in Providence, R.I., was her best friend and roommate. Surbey said she held Asay’s hand when she passed away, and on Sunday was consoled by Blueliners whenever she returned to the bench.
Surbey, who had called Asay by the nickname Barb since they were students, said her athletic accomplishments sometimes overshadowed her academic pursuits. Asay earned a PhD. in forestry from the University of British Columbia while also playing two seasons for the Thunderbirds hockey team.
“She loved making sense of numbers and puzzles, and she could bring that stuff to life. But with all of her accolades and everything, she wouldn’t tell you,” said Surbey.
“I’d always brag about her in Nelson when I introduced her to people. You’d never know that she was this brilliant person of excellence until someone else filled you in on the bullet points of her.”
A spokesperson for Whitewater said Asay had fallen into a tree well on the Summit side of the resort near the peak. She was transported to Kootenay Lake Hospital in critical condition where she later died.
The resort said it was the first fatality to occur inbounds in its 40-plus year history.
“Whitewater Ski Resort extends its deepest sympathy to the woman’s family and friends,” said Colby Lehman, Whitewater’s outdoor operations manager, in a statement.
“Our entire team is devastated by the news of the woman’s passing and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by this tragedy.”
Asay, originally from Prince George, was known outside Nelson for her contributions to Canadian baseball, where she excelled as the longest-serving member of the women’s team after first joining in 2005.
She was part of the team that won silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, won five World Cup medals and was a two-time MVP at first base in 2006 and as a pitcher in 2016.
André Lachance, who managed Asay on several national teams, said in a statement she was a key player for Baseball Canada.
“She was a competitor who possessed all of the characteristics that you look for in a baseball player. She was versatile, intelligent and competitive who rose to the challenge on many occasions.
“Above all, she was a terrific person who will leave a lasting impact on many people, not only with the Women’s National Team program but all of those who were lucky enough to meet her.”
Surbey thanked the staff at Whitewater, BC Ambulance and the hospital for their efforts to save Asay. She added work was already underway to establish a scholarship in her friend’s name. Donations to the Asay family can also be made online here.