Crocker honoured by Laurier, team Canada captain

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Cassie Campbell has one message for the nominees of the 2012 Outstanding Women of Laurier award.

Keep it up.

Continue playing sport at a competitive level, don’t halt your community presence and don’t let your academics falter.

Because you have been weighed, you have been measured and now the pressure’s on to stay in the spotlight and break down the barriers that are continuously thrust before you as a woman athlete.

On Thursday, the former team captain of the Canadian Olympic team and current Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster spoke in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Waterloo Inn and Conference Centre as part of Laurier’s annual award ceremony to recognize its top all-around female athlete of the year.

And as if there was any doubt, the articulate, media-friendly and confident skip for Laurier’s women’s curling team, Laura Crocker took home the hardware.

“This one’s very special,” said Crocker after the ceremony. “It’s very important to me as an athlete to give back and I try to do that whenever I can.”

Along with her natural skipping prowess on the rink, Crocker volunteers as a Little Rock instructor, assisting in the school program Rocks and Rinks, and she works with seven developmentally-challenged students in a local classroom.

“I have a picture frame in my room where I have a lot of the pictures of the kids and of the success that I’ve had to remind myself where I’ve been and where I want to be and I do hang my medals off that same picture frame,” said the skip.

Crocker is pretty good at what she does.

Three gold medals within the past three months have seen the fourth-year graduating psychology major’s stock rise meteorically within Canada’s curling elite.

Along with being named a two-time Academic All-Canadian, Crocker has won the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) circuit twice, and the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) tournament three times.

With her university career behind her, Crocker has big plans for her near future, but wasn’t in the mood to reveal the fine details just yet.

“I will be curling quite competitively but what exactly I’m doing is not confirmed yet… My main goal is playing in the Scotties [Tournament of Hearts] and winning the Scotties and getting myself to Olympic Trials.”

Women’s hockey forward and local Bluevale Collegiate graduate Caitlin Muirhead and women’s lacrosse goalkeeper Hanna Burnett were the other two finalists for the award.

In her keynote address, Campbell emphasized the pressure that these women have faced and will continue to face, and provided anecdotal advice to overcome their challenges ahead.

Campbell was the first woman broadcaster in Canada to ever provide colour commentary in an NHL game and discussed leaping out of her comfort zone to take on new forms of adversity and becoming comfortable with who you are, especially within an organization with so many industry movers and shakers like the CBC.

“I’m no Don Cherry, that’s for sure,” said the Richmond Hill native in an interview with The Cord before her speech. “I try to be myself and that’s the only way you can approach it… I try to ask hockey questions and try to get in the minds of the players. You won’t see me being too controversial. The players get enough of that. I’m looking for the positive stories and the human interest stories.”

The left-winger said her transition to broadcasting and sports interviewing has been a treat.

“I feel like I know the game and players treat me with great respect and I was surprised at how much the players knew about women’s hockey.

“They know about the program and a lot of them have daughters who play too so they’re asking me advice. It’s a fun job.”

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