Ottawa, Ont. – Softball Canada is pleased to announce that Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph, Ont.) has been named Head Coach of the Women’s National Team program. Rafter recently retired from her playing career after winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games and will now turn her attention to coaching the National Team. She will be looking to continue to build on the team’s culture and success following the retirement of Mark Smith (Falmouth, N.S.) in August.
“I cannot put into words the excitement I have for being named Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s National Team” stated Kaleigh Rafter. “I am humbled at the trust Softball Canada has put in me. I would like to thank President Scott Neiles, Board liaison Andrea Wolf and CEO Hugh Mitchener, as well as all the other Board members for their support throughout this process. I love the sport of softball and I am committed to growing the game across all age groups in Canada. This program has risen to new heights, culminating with a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I want to thank all those who came before me that helped build the program, especially Coach Mark Smith who led us for the last 12 years. It is my mission to make all of you proud. Go Canada!”
Rafter competed with the Women’s National Team since 2007. She is a two-time Olympian, a four-time Pan American Games medallist (one gold; three silver) and represented Canada in five WBSC World Cups, winning three bronze medals. She also won a gold medal at the 2007 Universiade (World University Games) and played two seasons of professional softball in Japan and one in the National Pro Fastpitch League.
While competing with the Canadian National Team, Rafter had the opportunity to coach at the NCAA level, serving as a student assistant coach and volunteer coach in several stints at Florida State University (2009-2010; 2012-2013; 2015 and currently) and as an assistant coach at the University of New York at Buffalo (2015-2016) and the University of Virginia (2016-2019). Rafter is a Competition – Development Certified coach in the Coaching Association of Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP).
“We are very excited to see Kaleigh take on the responsibilities of Head Coach of our Women’s National Team program” stated Softball Canada President Scott Neiles. “Her passion and commitment to the Women’s National Team has been exceptional and we are very confident in the abilities and energy she will bring to lead this program in a very positive direction. We feel her experience as a player and as a coach will be a tremendous asset to our team going forward.”
Canada has established itself as a perennial podium contender and gold medal threat at the international level and is currently ranked third in the WBSC Women’s Softball World Rankings. Following the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held this summer, the WBSC has adjusted the international calendar with the next Women’s Softball World Cup at the World Games scheduled for 2022 and qualifying for the 2024 World Cup also beginning in 2022.
In 2022, the Canadian Women’s National Team is currently slated to compete at the Canada Cup in Surrey, B.C. (June 20-26), the World Cup/World Games in Birmingham, Alabama (July 9-13) and the WBSC Americas Pan American Championship (dates and location to be determined).