Emily Ferguson honoured with 2018 Outstanding Woman of Laurier award


Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

On March 28, 2018, Emily Ferguson was announced as the recipient of the coveted Outstanding Women of Laurier (OWL) award.

The OWL award is given out annually to a female Laurier student who embodies unprecedented athletic and academic achievement while exemplifying a commitment to leadership within the Laurier community.

This year marked the 13th year of the annual event.

“[Winning is] just the cherry on top … being nominated in itself was fantastic and just being named to the roster of Outstanding Women at Laurier … I’m still kind of in shock,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson is a third-year kinesiology and physical education major on Laurier’s lacrosse team. Ferguson was named an OUA first-team all-star at the end of Laurier’s lacrosse team’s season, who ultimately qualified for the OUA bronze medal game this year.

In addition to her commitment to Laurier Athletics, Ferguson is a lacrosse and ringette community coach.

“Putting on the purple and gold and putting on the jersey is my favourite thing. From a young age, my coach taught me to respect the jersey. And now being a Laurier Golden Hawk, I know what that means,” Ferguson said.

“Every time you walk in, all eyes are on you because you’re a Golden Hawk and you’re proud to be a Golden Hawk.”

In her acceptance speech, Ferguson noted her excitement in being able to follow suit in Jacky Normandeau’s footsteps. Normandeau, who served as a mentor and role model to Ferguson since she was in first-year, was the recipient of the eleventh annual OWL award in 2016 and a dual-sport Laurier athlete.

“It’s amazing. She was my role model from first-year and she was my athlete-academic coach in study hall. Being able to follow in her footsteps a little bit … it’s incredible,” Ferguson said.

The annual, prestigious night celebrating female athletes in the Laurier community was attended by various guests, including Dave Jaworsky, mayor of Waterloo, Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Waterloo MP, Deborah MacLatchy, president of Laurier and Susan Cook-Scheerer, 10-year emcee of the event, amongst others.

“There needs to be more women leaders in the world of athletics and in the world of business and I think events like this are the perfect example of creating that next era, if you will. It’s very, very important.”

The event also featured keynote speaker Georgia Simmerling, a three-time, multi-sport Olympic athlete. Simmerling took to the stage at the event still on crutches from a major fall she took just prior to the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, which she was set to attend.

Simmerling broke both of her legs during a ski-cross competition, keeping her from attending the Olympics and competing with her team.

Despite Simmerling’s various setbacks, she described how her athlete mentality continued to allow her to persevere and strive towards her passion.

“The significance of this event is similar to the significance of the message that was shared by [Simmerling]; that winning doesn’t always come with the medal. But people are winning every single day because of the work that they’re doing,” Chagger said.

Simmerling also noted the importance of standing by fellow female colleagues and teammates. Even while injured, Simmerling described the support and encouragement she and her teammates continued to share with one another.

“How amazing is it that we have a person that spoke to us tonight who went to the Olympics in Canada — a proud Canadian — who this time around, was watching the Olympics on TV, so proud of her teammates having won,” Chagger said.

“The fact that they continue to stay in touch and that it’s not about competing against each other, but also about the friendships that are formed and the way that we’re able to strengthen each other, which I thought was quite important to hear and to be reminded about.”

As advice to other female athletes, Simmerling said an important component is to be confident in your own abilities.

“Now is the time,” Simmerling said.

“There needs to be more women leaders in the world of athletics and in the world of business and I think events like this are the perfect example of creating that next era, if you will. It’s very, very important.”

“Stay focused and let the haters hate and follow your passion. Don’t let other people put you down,” she said.

Chagger also echoed Simmerling’s message, conveying the importance of encompassing oneself with positivity and determination.

“It’s important to surround yourself with good people [in order] to really have confidence in yourself,” Chagger said.

“There’s always people rooting for you. But the most important person that needs to have your back is yourself. We have to confidence in ourselves and I think that spoke to [Simmerling’s] message.”

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