Finalists for the 13th annual Outstanding Women of Laurier announced

Photo by Luke Sarazin

The Outstanding Women of Laurier award is one that has recognized well-deserving women that have done a excelled both athletically and academically. For the thirteenth time, one woman will gain that level of recognition.

This past week, the Athletics Department announced its three finalists for this year’s award, which is given to a female Laurier student athlete who best combines athletic and academic achievement with an active commitment to leadership and the development of young athletes.

The three finalists for the award this year are: Emily Ferguson, a third-year kinesiology and physical education major on the lacrosse team; Bridget Ribau, a fourth-year kinesiology and physical education major of the curling team; as well as Jessa Braun, a third-year health administration major on the Laurier Brantford cross country team.

Ferguson, who considered being a nominee “incredible,” finished a formidable season being named as an OUA first-team all-star as her squad made it to the OUA bronze medal game.

Having her parents’ influence to continue being active in different ways, she plans to strive for more when it comes to helping others.

“I’ll continue to be a coach,” Ferguson said. “I coach lacrosse and ringette out in the community already, but my aim is to be a high school Phys. Ed teacher. So, I think being able to be a coach at the high school level, like field hockey, which I played, all those other sports, and then keeping that with the peer mentoring and tutoring that I’m doing on the side as well.”

Bridget Ribau, a former Academic All-Canadian and a part of the OUA champion Golden Hawks curling team that reclaimed their title this year, found the nomination to be an “honour.”

“I’m hoping that by covering more news that’s going on with those professional leagues, people will be more aware and in tune with what professional women are achieving.”

“I know a lot of really successful women in the community who’ve gone to Laurier for athletics and have been nominated for this award and have won it, so it’s an honour to be put in the same level of those guys,” she said.

Outside of her athletic and academic achievements, she has instructed youth curling camps in Oakville for the past seven years.

“I used to coach sports through all of high school. I did a lot of volunteer work too and that’s something I tried to carry on with me to my university life,” she said.

In addition to that, she has volunteered with the I Move My Mood program, spreading information on the connection between physical activity and mental health. She also has done volunteer work with a Parkinson’s exercise program, instructing individuals with movement disorders.

“I just feel like I have an obligation to give back. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities handed to me by people, so I feel like the least I could do is to pass on the knowledge and everything I’ve learned onto the community members,” Ribau said.

Finally, there is Jessa Braun, Laurier Brantford’s first ever nominee for this coveted award.

“It feels amazing, especially being from the Brantford campus. I just feel like it’s great that Laurier’s recognizing the talent that we have and the community service that we give in Brantford. As the first Brantford athlete to be nominated, it feels so good, so good,” she said.

A trailblazer of sorts in her own right, Braun was one of the first Brantford athletes to compete in the purple and gold back in the first season of the cross-country team there, where she also went on to be their top runner.

Outside of her athletics and academics, she has been a soccer coach with Grand River CI and the Kitchener Soccer Club as well as a fitness instructor with Laurier Brantford and the Brantford YMCA.

The most impressive of them must be the website she created that works to empower female athletes, working with partners like the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“I’m hoping that by covering more news that’s going on with those professional leagues, people will be more aware and in tune with what professional women are achieving,” she said.

“And hopefully little girls will be able to watch these women on TV and have those role models and women’s sports becomes more popular. Hopefully more girls will stay in sports and hopefully it becomes a norm for females to be athletes.”

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