Blue Jays add former women's national team standout to High-A staff

January 19th, 2023

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will be adding Ashley Stephenson, one of Canada’s most decorated baseball players internationally, to the coaching staff of their High-A affiliate in Vancouver for the 2023 season.

Stephenson is the second woman hired to a coaching role by the Blue Jays in the past two seasons, following Jaime Lever, who joined the organization as a Minor League hitting coach in ’22. Eleven women worked in on-field coaching roles with Major and Minor League clubs last season, a number that continues to grow.

“I am really excited for this opportunity,” Stephenson said in a press release. “I’ve loved baseball and the Blue Jays since I was 3 years old, and never really imagined that I’d be able to have a career in the game, let alone with my favourite team. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and develop as a coach all while doing my best to help our players reach their ultimate goal.”

Stephenson was an original member of the Canadian Women’s National Team going back to 2004, playing with that club until her career wrapped in ’18. At that time, Stephenson immediately jumped into a coaching role, helping to lead Canada to a bronze medal at the COPABE Women’s Pan-American Baseball Championships in ’19.

In 2022, Stephenson became the first woman to manage the Canadian Women’s National Team when it hosted the United States for a five-game series. She was later named Baseball Canada’s coach of the year.

While all of this was happening, of course, the Blue Jays were watching.

In August of 2022, Stephenson was invited to the Blue Jays’ new Player Development Complex in Dunedin, Fla. Stephenson spent a week there working with young players.

“Ashley had been on our radar as a coaching candidate for a while before we invited her to come and help out at the complex. Seeing her work with our players and alongside our staff gave us more than enough confidence in her ability to succeed as a coach,” said Joe Sclafani, director, player development. “We are elated to now have her as part of our staff in Vancouver and are excited to see her continue to grow as a coach as well as the impact she’ll have on our developing players.”

In February, Stephenson will take a leave from her job as a high school teacher to join the Blue Jays for camp. Stephenson graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Education and Wilfred Laurier University with an an honors Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology. While at Laurier, Stephenson, a gifted multi-sport athlete, won OUA championships with the hockey team in 2002, ’04, ’05 and ’06, winning national tournament MVP when her team won the Canadian championship in ’05.

The High-A Vancouver Canadians, coached in 2022 by fellow Canadian Brent Lavallee, will be stocked again with some of the Blue Jays’ top prospects, most of whom will be 20-to-23 years old, a year or two removed from being drafted.

For many of these players, an assignment to Vancouver is their first opportunity to visit Canada. Now, with Stephenson on board, they’ll be learning from one of the country’s best.