Monday, August 11, 2008

Just the Timpf of the iceberg back in 2005

It's a little self-indulgent, but what the hell. Megan Timpf was a force in the Canada women's softball fastpitch team's 6-1 romp over Chinese Taipei at the Olympics today. It's self-indulgent as all hell, but after the jump, here's a couple Simcoe Reformer articles that were penned about Timpf when she first made Team Canada in 2005.

It's not Pulitzer material, of course. Three years on, it's full of an embarrassing amount of newspaperisms ("The Port Dover fastpitch player" ... really, who talks like that?), right down the requisite sappy finishing paragraph. Reading between the lines, you can get a sense of the author wanting to believe she was well on the road to Beijing, but feeling a need to hedge a bit -- especially after two torn ACLs, which followed hand and wrist injuries during the spring of '05. Suffice to say, Timpf's come a long way in three years to get to having a perfect night at the plate at the Olympics -- 3-for-3 with three RBI, a run scored and a base on balls.


The term "fresh start" is fitting for Megan Timpf.

The Port Dover ballplayer is getting settled in at a new school, California University of Pennsylvania, which she's transferred to for her junior season. Not only that, but with the Canadian women's fastpitch program now under a new head coach, the door was open this summer for the 21-year-old infielder to get her first taste of international competition.

In July, Timpf helped the Canada Elite squad win the bronze medal at the Canada Cup in Vancouver, this country's best finish at that event since 1996. From there, she and her teammates made a exhibition tour in Chicago and Akron, Ohio, playing National Pro Fastpitch League clubs.

"I can't even explain it, it was so awesome," says Timpf, who also helped the Brampton Blazers finish second at the Canadian junior women's championship in early August.

"Just to sit back while playing infield and watching the other top players was worth it. Just seeing what they do, you learn a lot from them. Just being in their presence makes you step up your own game."

When the national team selections were being made, Timpf was still bothered by hand and wrist injuries that limited her to 29 games this spring at Campbell (N.C.) University. But she survived two tryout camps to make Canada Elite's lineup.

"I kind of went to the first camp in Kitchener just for the heck of it," Timpf recalls. "Give it a shot, get my name out there, see what it was like. Ended up getting the call back -- thought they had the wrong number."

They didn't, and first-year national team coach Lori Sippel isn't second-guessing the decision. The former Olympian says Timpf showed a lot of potential despite not being "completely comfortable" due to the earlier injuries.

"There's a lot of opportunity with Team Canada right now," Sippel says. "Megan is young, she can bounce back from the wrist and hand (injuries). It is a hard road when it comes to training and what you're prepared to do to improve. But Megan is somebody with decent talent. We definitely saw something when we picked her out at the camp in Ontario."

Part of Timpf's fresh start has involved a new position. Normally a shortstop, she moved to third base -- where she'd played "maybe two games in my whole life" -- during the Canada Cup.

"(Brantford's) Cindy Eadie, our first baseman, has experience at third, so she really helped me out. My team was awesome with things like that."

What this summer leads to for Timpf remains to be seen, of course. This fall, Sippel, who also coaches in the U.S. college ranks with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, will invite up to 25 players to Lincoln, Neb., for a week-long training camp. Then she will pick a 17-woman roster for November's world qualifying tournament in Guatemala, the first step toward qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

When it comes to any player's chances, Sippel chooses her words as carefully as she did as a CBC analyst in Athens last summer. After all, dozens of talented players would love nothing more than to wear the maple leaf in Beijing.

"Megan is as far as anybody can go at this point," she says. "But there's another 35 athletes you can say that about."

As for Timpf's collegiate prospects, Cal U is in Division 2 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Timpf, who batted .305 with an on-base percentage above .400 for Division 1 Campbell this spring, is studying concurrent education with the aim of becoming an elementary school teacher.

Timpf's transfer means her family -- mom Andrea, dad Peter and older sisters Amber and Katie -- should have more chances to watch her games. The Simcoe Composite School grad is grateful for the support she receives from family and friends, noting SCS principal Bob Foster, while on a trip to the West Coast, saw her play in the Canada Cup.

"Everyone that I've known has been really supportive," Timpf said. "It's good to know the people around you believe in you. This summer my family came and watched me in Ohio, in Chicago, in Ottawa. It's always nice to see a familiar face rooting for you."

Whether or not the Port Dover product will represent Canada on the biggest stage of all one day is even more of an unknown, given that women's softball stands to be dropped from the Olympics after 2008.

"It's sad they are getting rid of it for the Olympics, Timpf says. "But a lot of people are going to put up a fight."

Port Dover native to play for Canada in Pan-Am tourney (Oct. 21, 2005)

Forgive Megan Timpf if she had trouble taking notes Wednesday morning.

The Port Dover fastpitch player was in class at California University of Pennsylvania wondering if she was on Softball Canada's 17-woman roster for the upcoming Pan American Championship.

"They were sending out an e-mail at 10 o'clock," Timpf related yesterday. "I had class so I couldn't check it until 11.

"That was the longest class of my life."

Once she logged on, Timpf got the good news that she'll wear the maple leaf late next month in Guatemala, where Team Canada will embark on the first step toward qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I'm pumped, I'm just on cloud nine," said the 21-year-old infielder. "It's just awesome."

Timpf was among a group of Team Canada hopefuls who travelled to Lincoln, Neb., earlier this month for the Nebraska Fall Classic. Over 10 days, Canada's squad played against top U.S. college teams such as Nebraska, defending NCAA champion Michigan, Creighton University and Colorado State.

"Everyone was anxious," Timpf said. "It was such a competitive camp . . . I would definitely not want to have been a coach who had to make the cuts."

Team Canada coach Lori Sippel said it was obvious how much Timpf wanted to be on the team.

"What Megan brings is some very good enthusiasm," Sippel said. "She's a hard worker, a good listener, and willing to improve. You could she was very invested in the program. "She has a ways to go, but now she has a great chance to get experience in an international tournament."

Timpf played mostly third base this summer for the Canada Elite team, but she's pencilled in at shortstop for the Nov. 26-Dec. 4 tourney. Brantford's Cindy Eadie, a corner infielder, is also on the team.

Sippel called the Pan American championship a "quarter-final" for making it to Beijing. If Canada comes fourth or higher, it qualifies for next year's worlds and the 2007 Pan-Am Games in Brazil. Olympic berths will be on the line at those events.

For Timpf, it will be her first time playing outside North America.

"I don't know what to expect," she said. "I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not really sure what role I'll have, but I'll play anywhere. It's awesome to be part of this."

Timpf is settling in nicely at Cal U, where she's studying elementary education and is a junior infielder for the Lady Vulcans. Timpf has a ready-made mentor in one of her new coaches, Meaggan Wilton-Pettipiece, who played infield on Canada's 2000 Olympic squad.

"I'm learning so much from both my coaches," said Timpf, who transferred from Campbell (N.C.) University. "Meaggan's given me so much good advice."

Timpf and her new collegiate teammates have already shown they can work together. Cal U's teams compete to see who can perform the most community service. The softball team is in top spot, thanks to eight hours spent packing boxes with food to send to hurricane Katrina victims.

"That was great for our teamwork," Timpf said. "The one night we were doing it from midnight until 5 a.m."

Ultimately, it seems everything's been coming up aces for Timpf lately. Even being in the U.S. over Thanksgiving weekend turned out well.

"Coach Sippel had us over to her house and she cooked us Thanksgiving dinner," Timpf related. "She's so great that way."


Jeff Dertinger said...

Yeah, You were definitely all over Megan's rise back then, Neate. I remember thinking, at the time, yeah she's a good ballplayer - but the Olympics?

She's had a tough road. Two years ago she was unfairly left of the National team to play for the Canadian B team. Then she was finally brought into the national mix, but wasn't really perceived as a regular starter or even contributor.

Then she goes out last night and absolutely dominates at the plate.

That . . . was awesome.

sager said...

We were all over it. No I in team!

(I would have posted a story Jeff wrote on Megan, but it's copyrighted material. Technically, I really shouldn't even be posting the story I wrote.)