2008 Olympian Kayla Bashore-Smedley (Shoemakersville, Pa) will not be departing for Guadalajara, Mexico with the rest of the XVI Pan American Team tomorrow. Instead, she will be cheering everybody on from her home in Chula Vista, California.
Three weeks ago during an intra-squad scrimmage, Smedley suffered a head injury and experienced symptoms of a concussion. Smedley traveled with the team to Colorado Springs, CO for ten days of altitude acclimation as part of their final preparations for the Pan Ams, however, her participation was limited.
“I stopped practicing after the injury because of my symptoms and in hopes of getting better in time for the Pan Ams,” said Smedley.
Unfortunately, the full recovery Smedley was hoping for did not come. After several appointments with specialists and numerous extensive conversations with the medical and coaching staff, a decision was made to remove Smedley from the Pan American Team.
“The team needs someone at full strength and it is best for the sake of my health as well,” commented Smedley. “I am totally heartbroken to be missing this tour, especially since we all put so much work and practice time in preparation for this, but everybody was on the same page that it was the best decision for me to stay back.”
Replacing Smedley will be 2008 Olympian Jesse Gey (Green Lane, Pa). Gey was named as one of the four alternates to the team in the event that any of the original sixteen selected could not travel. Gey got word on Monday afternoon that she was on the team and would venture to Guadalajara in just four days.
"I am really, really excited to be a part of the team and have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics," said Gey. "Kayla is a huge part of the team and it is not the ideal situation, but I feel prepared and am excited to step up and fill the hole she left."
The Team is scheduled to touch down in Mexico’s second largest city on Friday with competition beginning Wednesday, October 19. To recap the significance of the Pan Ams, a gold medal in Mexico equals a ticket to London. The event is celebrated a year before the Olympic Games and brings together 6,000 athletes competing in 36 different sports. It is appropriately titled America's Fiesta and it is a direct route to the Olympic Games, the ultimate of all sporting events.
However, the road to London in all likelihood passes through Argentina, who have claimed six gold medals in the last six Pan American Games, a 100% batting average, with USA falling a close second in five of the last six Games.
“The good news is, in the last few years we have developed depth within the squad,” said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “Yes, we have an Olympian coming out, but we also have an Olympian coming in. We will be looking for Jesse to be a significant contributor on the field.”
Despite not being able to participate in a tournament the team has spent countless hours preparing for, Smedley is in good spirits and has high hopes of the team making history while here.
“I'm looking forward to seeing how strong this team can be, and I really believe that our strength is about more than one player's performance,” said Smedley. “So I'll be cheering everybody on from here and will miss carrying the US flag around the field after we win!”
USFHA media release
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