CSI Pacific Athlete of the Month Powered by 2XU


The Athlete of the Month is our way of acknowledging a BC-located athlete who has displayed outstanding performances in their sport and deserves recognition. Athletes chosen monthly to be the face of Canadian Sport Institute Pacific will receive a celebration feature on our website and a gift from 2XU.

Each athlete selected as Athlete of the Month receives a small token of congratulation sponsored by 2XU. CSI Pacific would like to thank 2XU for their generosity and support of the program.

Current Athlete of the Month

View this month’s 2XU Athlete of the Month

October 2019

Sara Groenewegen




April 12, 1995

Place of Birth:

White Rock, BC


Mark Smith

Career Highlights:

  • Pan American Games: 2015 – GOLD
  • WBSC Americas Qualifier: 2017 – BRONZE
  • WBSC World Championships: 2016 – BRONZE; 2014 – 4th
  • Qualified for Tokyo 2020

The Reason Behind Being Nominated for the Athlete of the Month:

In the 2019 Pan Am Games, she pitched a no-hitter in Canada’s 8-0 Win over Venezuela. Just a few weeks ago, she competed and helped Canada qualify for Tokyo 2020.

  • Win Aug 25th vs Cuba – pitched 2 perfect innings
  • Win Aug 28th vs Puerto Rico – pitched 4 innings = no runs and 4 strikeouts
  • Loss Aug 31st vs Mexico – pitched 4 innings = only allowing 2 hits and 3 strikeouts.


Sara Groenewegen plays high level softball while managing her Type 1 diabetes, something she has dealt with since age nine. In her first tournament with Team Canada, Groenewegen threw a no-hitter against China at the 2013 WBSC Junior World Championships. Later that year she suited up with the senior national team at the World Cup of Softball and the Canada Cup. Groenewegen played for Team Canada at the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championships in 2014 and 2016, winning bronze at the latter. She was also a member of the gold medal-winning squad at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Groenewegen missed competing at the 2018 World Championships after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia, and being placed in a medically induced coma for 10 days. Groenewegen played collegiately for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers where she was a three-time All-American (2014-17). In her freshman year in 2014, she led the NCAA in average strikeouts per game (11.6) and threw a no-hitter against Penn State. She now holds the Minnesota school record for career strikeouts (1214) and posted a 0.63 ERA as a senior.


Did you play any other sports growing up?

Growing up I played pretty much anything that was competitive. I played soccer, volleyball, tennis, basketball, competed in track and field, swam, and played softball. I actually swam competitively until 5th grade, but ended up having to choose between softball and swimming as they were both summer sports and more time was being demanded by both sports, obviously I chose softball! I always loved competing, and sports gave me an outlet to compete and stay active as a kid. I am very grateful to have played so many sports growing up because I believe you learn things in certain sports that you don’t get the chance to in others.

What have been some challenges you have faced throughout your athletic career?

I think I have faced my fair share of adversities, but I have grown immensely from each and every one. To start, I am type 1 diabetic. I was diagnosed when I was 9, so I can’t remember a life without it – it is my norm. Managing diabetes is hard enough, but then throw in being an athlete.. its quite the balancing act. I also tore my MCL (left knee) right before I went back to school for my senior year. Being sidelined for training leading up to what should be one’s most important season was terrifying, but I used that time off the field to renew my leadership skills, to become a better teammate. In times like that you can either feel really sorry for yourself, or you can find a way to get better no matter the circumstance. My most recent adversity I have faced was when I became very ill last summer in late July. I had flu like symptoms and my back started to really hurt. I knew something was wrong because I am not a wimp when it comes to pain. I went to the emergency room and ultimately woke up a couple weeks later not remembering anything that had happened. Turns out I had been diagnosed with Legionnaires disease (a severe form of pneumonia). My lungs ultimately couldn’t oxygenate my blood because they were not working, so a machine had to do it for me. It took me almost a month to get back to walking at a normal rate. I was not going to let anything get in my way of getting back onto the softball field. Fast forward a year, I couldn’t be more grateful for my health today, and the perspective I gained throughout that entire journey.

What was the highlight about the Pan Am Games?

The pan am games were very exciting. The 2015 games were the best experience I had with the national team, so I was excited to experience it again with my team. I think my favorite thing was getting to compete in a setting with other sports going after their goals and triumphs. Multi-sport games are so fun in terms of meeting people who share the same ambitions and behaviors – they get what lifestyle you live, and it makes you even more proud to represent your country because not only are you representing your team, you are representing every other athlete competing in the games.

What are you most looking forward to about Tokyo?

I am looking forward to my first Olympic Games. It is quite sad but if softball had still been in the Olympics, I would have already been an Olympian by now (this will be first year back since 2008). But I am excited to take it all in. It is an elite club to be a part of, and I couldn’t be more excited to experience it with some of my best friends who I work day in and day out with.

How does training look like for you from now until Tokyo 2020?

Right now we are coming off of a long summer season. We ended September 1. In terms of training, we will get back to it on September 23 with strength and conditioning and mobility. We will likely leave softball-specific training until the end of October, mainly to give our minds a rest from the sport. We have been working non-stop for almost a year straight, so I like the idea of chilling out a little bit. From there, we will work around 6 days a week to get the most out of our off season and to be as prepared as we can be for the Olympics. I am assuming that our team will centralize, we just have to wait to find out where and when. It causes a little anxiety to not know these things, but we know that our staff wants to put us in the best position to win. So many sacrifices are needed to be made in order for that to happen.

What is your favourite holiday and why?

My favourite holiday would have to be Thanksgiving time. I really enjoy the fall season in general, and I definitely learned what a good thanksgiving looks like having gone to school in the America. Even if it doesn’t involve your family, you can choose who you want to hang around. Thanksgiving has good food and good company, two things that I really appreciate!