A former recipient of the Canadian national women’s baseball team Most Valuable Player Award in 2011, Meagan Cornelssen is an exceptional multi-sport athlete whose legacy can also be traced back to women’s hockey. Raised in Grande-Prairie, Alberta, the 24 year-old is part of a growing number of players whose on-ice heroics have been complemented by contributing to the growth of women’s baseball in Canada.
Competing with the Grande Prairie Midget AAA Storm in her teens, Cornelssen was a prolific scorer and team captain in her final season, part of a blossoming two-sport career that would see her achieve many milestones. Recognized as Grande Prairie’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2008, she played for Alberta’s U18 provincial hockey team while also making her debut with the Canadian national women’s baseball team.
During 2008, she was one of three 17 year-olds competing with the Canadian national women’s baseball team at the IBAF Women’s World Cup. Batting .294 with four stolen bases (she trailed Ashley Stephenson who led all players in the World Cup with five), she would also get a seventh-inning hit, propelling a comeback against Australia, advancing Canada to the gold medal game.
Of note, 2009 may have been even more memorable than her prolific 2008. Named top forward for the North after a two-point performance at the 2009 Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League All-Star Game, she also helped Canada capture the gold medal at the 2009 International Series in Granby, Quebec. Complementing such a milestone was the fact that she was named the Top Offensive Player at the Canadian women’s baseball nationals.
Successfully balancing baseball and hockey during these formative years, she benefited from a strong leader as she elevated to the next stage of her women’s hockey career. Under the tutelage of head coach Howie Draper (who coached her at the 2008 Canadian National Women’s Under-18 Championships), she enjoyed a memorable season with the Alberta Pandas, culminating in a 2010 CIS women’s hockey National Championship, the seventh in Pandas history. In her Pandas debut, a September 12, 2009 win against Grant MacEwan College, Cornelssen would score her first CIS career goal.
Contributing to one of the most accomplished programs in Western Canada, she played a strong role on a forechecking line, compiling five points, while logging one goal against the Manitoba Bisons in the Canada West championships. Her best performance during the season was a two-goal output on Halloween night, a 7-0 blanking of Regina.
Although her studies would take her to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology for the 2010-11 season, it reunited her with a familiar face, head coach Deanna Iwanicka. Of note, Cornelssen had once played for Iwanicka when she was a member of the U18 Alberta provincial girls’ hockey team competing at the 2008 Canadian National U18 women’s championships. As a side note, some of Cornelssen’s teammates with the Alberta U18’s included several future NCAA and CWHL stars, including Holly Carrie-Mattimoe, Brittany Esposito, Reagan Fischer, Saige Pacholok, Carly Warren and Samantha Watt, to name a few.
Upon joining NAIT, she quickly paid dividends as the program prevailed in their annual Blue/Gold Tournament. Outscoring their opponents by a cumulative total of 29-4, Cornelssen lit the lamp on three separate occasions. In her ACAC regular season debut, she scored a goal in a win against rival SAIT. During the 2010-11 postseason, she tied Nicole Gregoire for the team lead in scoring. In that same season, she continued to establish herself as one of Canadian baseball’s elites.
Competing in the 2011 International Women’s Series in Cary, North Carolina, home to the training complex of USA Baseball, she led Team Canada with 7 RBI’s, while compiling an impressive .353 Batting Average. Later in the year, she was named the Top Offensive Player at the Senior Women’s Invitational (also known as the Canadian women’s nationals). During the winter of 2011-12, she joined fellow hockey players Mills and Psota (along with Quebec-born pitcher Vanessa Riopel) for a stint of winter baseball in Australia.
In 2014, she contributed to a proud chapter in Alberta sporting history as she contributed to Team Alberta capturing its first-ever gold medal at the 2014 Senior Women’s Invitational. Sporting a 5-0 undefeated mark, she laced a two-run single, which was part of a 6-2 triumph over Team Ontario. Before leaving for Japan to participate in the 2014 IBAF Women’s World Cup, Cornelssen and her teammates had the privilege of receiving instruction from former Toronto Blue Jays stars, Roberto Alomar and Shawn Green.
Throughout the seasons, Cornelssen’s play on the diamond has seen her lineup with several other women’s hockey players over the years, including Amanda Asay, Sam Magalas, Ella Matteucci, Autumn Mills, Kate Psota and Ashley Stephenson. During the 2015 Baseball Canada training and evaluation camp (in order to determine the Pan Am Games roster), she was part of the Canada Black lineup, playing alongside Psota, Matteucci and Stephenson. Although she was not named to the Canadian contingent competing in the inaugural women’s baseball tournament at the Pan Am Games, the bigger picture shows that Cornelssen had a profound and pioneering impact in the game’s growth as one of its stars.
Her athletic gifts helped build relevance for women’s baseball, strongly contributing at the grass roots level, while her admirable hockey heroics have continued to establish Alberta as one of the premier provinces for elite women’s hockey talent. Taking into account that women’s baseball holds great potential to be named to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, in addition to a likely spot on the schedule of the 2019 Pan Am Games (plus World Cups in 2016 and 2018), there shall be some remarkable opportunities for Cornelssen to rebound and experience new glories, while building on the foundation that she helped establish.