Laurier Hall of Famer Laura Brooker on Coach Osborne and her years with the Hawks
There may be nothing more special in sports than the relationship that a coach and player develop together. Ask any athlete about their progress and success and they will list off a variety of names that were instrumental in helping them get to where they are today. While that list will surely include family, friends and teammates who have helped along the way, the first person that most athletes will mention is usually one of their coaches.
For former women’s hockey player and recent Golden Hawk Hall of Fame inductee, Laura Brooker her bond with former Coach Rick Osborne was nothing short of special.
Brooker spent five seasons with the Golden Hawks and was an offensive force. She is the only women’s hockey player to be named an OUA all-star five times and added to Laurier’s trophy case, winning two OUA championships over a three-year span with the team.
“Finding out was amazing. Peter Baxter actually called me, and it was so exciting to hear about,” Brooker said upon hearing the news of her induction.
While the hall of fame ceremony is usually held as a banquet, the COVID-19 pandemic forced this year’s induction to be completely virtual. Although disappointed, Brooker said that the process went incredibly smooth.
“I wasn’t sure that they were going to do the hall of fame this year, however Jamie [Howieson] made it super smooth and the department kept us up to date,” Brooker said.
Brooker lit up the scoreboard on the ice with the Golden Hawks. Playing in over 120 regular season games and 35 playoff games Brooker scored a total of 80 goals and 65 assists for 145 total points. Those are both good for second all-time in program history
Brooker played from 2010-2015 and was one of the most successful players coached under legendary Laurier coach, Rick Osborne.
Osborne had coached many players and won several championships over his 15-year career behind the bench. He coached some of the most successful teams in school history and had won seven OUA titles before Brooker joined the team in 2010. Brooker attributes much of her success and growth with Laurier to Osborne as they developed a great relationship during the five seasons.
“Right from the get-go, since my rookie year, he has honestly been my life. He helped me so much with my work ethic and commitment,” Brooker said.
It came as no surprise that Brooker choose her former coach and mentor, Osborne to induct her into the Laurier hall of fame last month. “The induction from Rick was amazing. I reached out to him and there was no one else I would rather have had induct me,” she said.
While being a pivotal part of the two championship runs in 2012 and 2014, Brooker made her mark right away with the Golden Hawks, winning OUA rookie of the year and being named a national All-Rookie after scoring 19 goals in 2011. Her 19 goals finished tied second that year in with Olympic gold medalist and Canadian hockey icon, Hayley Wickenheiser.
She credits Coach Osborne for having her prepared right from the start of her career with Laurier and preaching the importance of team bonding.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was joining Laurier. The caliber, the players, the atmosphere and aspect of a team while being at school. My rookie year gave me confidence that I was able to play at this caliber and excel at this level,” Brooker said.
Osborne would always remind the team to stick together and looked at his staff and players as family. His approach to coaching led him to an impressive nine provincial championships and one national title during his decade and a half with the Golden Hawks.
Brooker mentions that the OUA championship in 2014 was probably one of her greatest memories. Osborne had put his top goal-scoring threat Brooker on defense for the 2014 OUA championship tournament.
Although playing in a different role, Brooker says that the team that the season was the hardest-working and best coached team that she had been a part of. It was bold moves like that and an intelligent coaching strategy that made Osborne so successful with Laurier.
“Rick’s style of coaching was up front. He told you what he wanted, and he was all about having fun. If we were having fun, he was having fun,” Brooker said of Osborne.
“His coaching style fit perfectly with me and helped me so much through my Laurier career. I connected so much with him and his coaching and I committed myself one hundred per cent.”
In Brooker’s induction video, Coach Osborne credits her work ethic and incomparable commitment that complimented her incredible talent so well. Osborne continued in the video to call her, “a great hockey player and an even better person.”
The bond between Brooker and Osborne was truly unbreakable and a huge reason for their success together. Brooker dominated on the ice through her five seasons with the Golden Hawks and can now call herself a Laurier hall of famer as she rightfully should.