Last Thursday evening, Julie Karn, a third-year kinesiology student and midfielder for the Laurier women’s soccer team was the recipient of the 12th annual Outstanding Women of Laurier award. The event was held at Bingeman’s Conference Centre, where several members of the Laurier community, as well as external members of the Kitchener-Waterloo community, came together to celebrate female athletes.
“I’m speechless. I still can’t believe it. I’m shaking. The fact that I received this award is just incredible. I’m very excited,” Karn said after receiving the award.
“It shows the support that [Laurier] provide[s] female athletes. For this school to even offer this opportunity and this award and this event just shows how much they support their female athletes through scholarships, through athletic awards and programs and so forth.”
Karn was nominated alongside fifth-year lacrosse player Jessica Lubert and fourth-year hockey player Giuliana Pallotta. This is the second year in a row that the Outstanding Women of Laurier award has gone to a soccer star, as last year’s winner, Jacky Normandeau, was a member of the women’s soccer team, as well as the women’s hockey team.
Along with playing varsity soccer, Karn is also the co-owner and co-director of Battle of the Next Generation with her sister, an initiative that hopes to bridge the gap between competitive dance and the professional dance industry for young dancers.
“We wanted to use everything that we learned in the past to shape the dancers of the future. It’s really difficult to break into the professional dance industry, so we wanted to provide them with the opportunities and the experience to get in front of professional dancers, choreographers, casting directors, agents, to give them the opportunity to break into the professional dance industry and to follow their dreams,” Karn said.
“We’re there to mentor them.”
A highlight of the night was also the keynote address from Karina Leblanc, goalkeeper for the 2012 Olympic bronze medal winning Canadian women’s soccer team.
Leblanc talked about her experience playing for team Canada and the importance of trying again after not making the cut, or losing a big game. She also challenged the whole room to “live the next 48 hours of your life purposefully” whether that was with sports, or random acts of kindness, or pushing yourself to achieve your dream. Leblanc’s speech embodied what the Outstanding Women of Laurier award is all about — celebrating female athletes who are successful both on and off the field.
“Obviously, I’d love to go to the Olympics like [Karina Leblanc] did. She’s an amazing role model and to get to that level would be incredible,” Karn said.
As for Karn’s future, she hopes to continue to inspire young athletes to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.
“This is obviously going to help me in my future; it’s amazing to be recognized at this level in the university as a varsity athlete. I want to continue to grow my business that I have with my sister so we can continue to mentor the next generation of dancers. I’d like to start up some sort of academy that I can run in the summer with some coaches that I’ve met over my years participating in sports,” she said.
“I definitely want to use this and kind of run on it so I can further impact the young generation of athletes [sic].”