Laurier honours former Hawks

As part of last weekend’s homecoming celebration, the Wilfrid Laurier athletics department inducted seven new members to the Golden Hawk Hall of Fame. The athletes of the class of 2009 were Alison Goodman (women’s hockey and soccer), Kate Jackson (women’s rugby), Cathy Ingalls (women’s rugby) and James Hitchen and Justin Shakell (men’s football).

The 1998-99 women’s hockey team was inducted in the roster category while former WLUSU president Bill Ballard, who convinced the Board of Governors to build the Athletic Complex, entered the Hall of Fame as a builder.

“Every year it gets tougher and tougher for the committee to make a decision because we have so many worthy candidates,” said Laurier’s director of athletics and recreation Peter Baxter. “With the amount of success we’ve had in recent years, getting into the Hall [of Fame] now is an incredible achievement.”

One of the more intriguing stories of this year group of inductees is that of James Hitchen. Hitchen played on the offensive line for the Hawks from 1997-2001, being named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-Canadian in 2000 and an Ontario Universit Athletics (OUA) all-star twice, in 1999 and 2000.

“It’s really exciting,” said Hitchen of being inducted to the Hall of Fame. “When I started my first year here I wrote down all my goals, and this was one of them, and to achieve it now feels incredible.

If it hadn’t been for the Laurier football team, Hitchen would never have even considered going to university. And after graduating from Laurier, he not only went on to finish teacher’s college, but also earn a master’s degree in education.

“There’s a lot of kids who wouldn’t even consider going to university if they didn’t play sports,” said Hitchen. “I think [athletics] teaches a lot of important lessons that you can’t really learn in a classroom.”

The Hall of Fame keeps the rich tradition of Golden Hawk athletics alive, something that Baxter sees as crucial to the university.

“The current student athletes need to have an appreciation for the people that laid the ground work for them,” he said. “If you go through the list of this year’s inductees, they all have great memories of being a Golden Hawk and that just moves on to the students that are here now.”

Hitchen remembers his time at Laurier fondly, with sports playing a massive role in his life and looked very favourably on Saturday’s homecoming crowd that stuck through the rain.

“When I played there wasn’t this many people out here,” he said. “Football was definitely a big part of my life when I was here and it’s great to see this kind of support for the team.”