Breaking Records And Competing In The Upcoming Olympics With Team Canada Softball Pitcher Jenna Caira

Jenna Caira | Pitcher | Team Canada Softball

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This experience has been extremely special and even better than I could ever imagine. It has been the most mentally and physically challenging year of my life, but I would always choose this path

Jenna Caira

Pitcher

Team Canada Softball

× The interview with Jenna Caira was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

How did you get into Softball, and more specifically, pitching? Tell us about your journey in becoming a Team Canada Softball player.

I started pitching and playing softball when I was four years old and knew around that age that I wanted to play for Team Canada.

All my siblings played softball, but I vividly remember watching my older sister Nadia pitch. I began pitching beside her either outside on the driveway or inside school gymnasiums.

My softball career would not be what it is today without the love and support of my entire family. My younger brother, Genio travelled to almost every tournament with me. He was our “assistant scorekeeper” and always checked my bag to ensure I didn’t forget anything!

I’ve been fortunate to be part of softball programs that had great teammates, coaches and parents. We understood the level of commitment required to develop and elevate our game to the next level.

When I was 14 years old, I decided to focus more on softball throughout the offseason, but still felt it was important to participate in other school sports to stay active.

I pitched four nights a week for two hours, including two additional days of team practice. It was ingrained in me that preparation brings confidence, which helped me build a winning mindset.

While playing for Team Canada was a subconscious goal, I never put pressure on myself to make the team.

I believe that being present on the field and doing my best showcased my character and athleticism, which eventually led to a National team camp invitation.

You’ve been with the National team since 2009 and have been the captain since 2013. How do you approach being a strong leader on and off the field?

I try my best to ensure I stay true to my strengths and what I bring to the team.

My leadership style is very “behind the scenes” – whether it’s talking to someone privately or setting up a surprise the team could enjoy.

I show my support and commitment to each player and staff member by getting to know them on a deeper level that’s outside of softball and hope they know I’d do anything to help them grow as a person and player.

My thought process with leadership is if your teammate knows you care about them as a person, then when I need to approach them as a player to challenge them, they know it is coming from the right place.

Leadership is hard, and sometimes your decisions and beliefs make you feel like you’re on your own little island. But if you truly believe something is right for the team, you must speak up and say what you feel.

You attended Syracuse University from 2009 to 2012 where you dominated the field. Most notably being the first pitcher in Big East Conference history to ever reach 1,000 strikeouts. You happened to breeze past it with a total of 1,051! How have you been able to elevate your craft over the years? What has been your toughest pitch to learn?

I really enjoyed my time at Syracuse University because of what we accomplished as a program. While breaking pitching records was exciting, I was also very proud of what we did as a team.

Within my four years, our group were conference champions twice and went to regionals three consecutive times.

Syracuse University softball was on the map, and it was because of our team’s drive and focus every year to be better and hold each other accountable to a higher standard.

I remember breaking 1,000 strikeouts and my coach gave me a hug, which was really kind. I didn’t want to celebrate yet because in that moment, we were losing – we made sure to take care of business before anything else!

During my time at the collegiate level, I only threw a drop ball and changeup. The hardest pitch to learn has been the rise ball, which I’m still working on today, but having that pitch will only help elevate my game.

I am a very driven person and seek new challenges that will help me grow both on and off the field.

Softball is back in the Olympics for the first time since 2008! In 2019, you helped Team Canada qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Although you’ve had many great accomplishments within softball, what does this experience mean to you? What mentality are you bringing into the games?

It’s so exciting to have softball back in the Olympics!

Our sport was removed after the 2008 Olympic Games, and so many of our core players have been together for 12 years waiting for this opportunity.

Unfortunately, softball is removed again for the 2024 Olympic Games, so we really want to take this moment to showcase our amazing sport and make Canada proud!

This experience has been extremely special and even better than I could ever imagine. It has been the most mentally and physically challenging year of my life, but I would always choose this path.

The people I am surrounded by every day are incredibly special – our team is completely bought into our goal and each person has the competitive drive to push themselves and each other to reach our greatest potential.

It’s going to take every single person on this team to help build the best Team Canada Softball program for the Olympic Games, and I continue to learn so much every day thanks to this amazing family.

Besides being able to win games, what does a “winning culture” within a team look like to you?

A winning culture is a team that clearly defines each person’s roles and responsibilities are completely aligned to a common goal and hold each other accountable to its core values that have been built.

It is also a team that not only focuses on performance but also on relationships.

Leaders within a strong culture empower their people, make them feel valued and encourage them to embrace their strengths.

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

Jenna Caira is an extremely passionate and determined athlete. As captain of Team Canada Softball, she not only has to be excellent on the field but off the field as well. She makes sure her teammates know that she cares about them as a person, which I think is an amazing approach to leadership. She has many accomplishments in the sport of softball but you can tell she doesn’t only credit herself, but her family, her teammates and her coaches. As a former softball pitcher, I definitely look up to Jenna as a great role model! When my team went to Nationals, she came to speak and every single athlete in that room was more motivated when they left than when they came in. Her leadership is what makes her a next-level athlete. Softball is back in the Olympics for Tokyo and I know Jenna and her team are going to dominate on the field!

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