When Vanessa Riopel joined the Women’s National Baseball Team in 2007 she knew but a handful of words in English. Then she was cut from the roster for the 2008 IBAF World Cup and made the decision to go to Australia for eight months where she could improve her game. She struggled with the language barrier but eventually persevered, both on and off the field, and returned to compete at the next three editions of the World Cup in 2010, 2012 and 2014. That wasn’t the first challenge Riopel had to overcome in her life. Born with a clubfoot, an abnormality that would make her eligible to compete at the Paralympics, her left foot was broken in multiple places and re-set by doctors while she was an infant but remains two sizes smaller than her right foot and has little flexibility or strength. When not with the national team, Riopel plays for Laurier Pub O’Connell de Victoriaville, a AA men’s team in the Quebec major junior league. She is the only female player in the league. She is also extremely proud of her performance at the 2010 World Cup where she gave up just one hit and one earned run in four innings against Japan, making her the best Canadian pitcher against the world’s best team.
Family: Parents Daniel Riopel and Céline Majeau… Older brother Maxim… Getting into the Sport: Started playing at age 9 because her older brother played baseball and she wanted to be like him… Outside Interests: Enjoys playing tennis, jogging and doing yoga… Earned her Bachelor degree in kinesiology and massage therapy/kinesiotherapy in 2013 and is pursuing a short graduate program at Sherbrooke University for teaching physical and health education in Cégep… Odds and Ends: Inspired by American soccer star Mia Hamm because they were born with the same physical disability, clubfoot… Always travels with her hair iron because it’s her superstition that her hair must be impeccable when she pitches… Favourite quote: “To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you are not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali…
NOTABLE INTERNATIONAL RESULTS
IBAF WCup: 2014 – 4th; 2012 – BRONZE; 2010 – 5th