Laurier pays tribute to ‘outstanding women’

On Tuesday, Laurier athletics celebrated International Women’s Day by paying tribute to some of its extraordinary female student athletes with the sixth annual Outstanding Women of Laurier luncheon.

The luncheon recognizes women who not only excel in both academics and athletics but are also heavily involved in their community. The event culminated with the presentation of the Outstanding Woman of Laurier award.

This year’s recipient was fourth-year swimmer Brittany Shaw, who, in addition to balancing being a team captain on the Golden Hawks swim team and a demanding double major in biochemistry and biotechnology, coaches with the Region of Waterloo swim club and volunteers with the Special Olympics swimming program and the Students Offering Support organization.

“It feels amazing, it’s not often that other people are recognizing you, so it feels a little weird but it’s a huge honour,” said Shaw. “It really means a lot to be able to give back to my community, I just really enjoy everything I do.” Shaw remained humble, recognizing fellow nominees, Hanna Burnett of the women’s lacrosse team and Samantha Schmalz of the women’s rugby team.

“I’m so honoured to be standing among those two other girls,” she said. “Sam and Hannah are both amazing, they’re outstanding women as well, they give back to the community just like I do and they deserve their recognition.”

While her schedule is busy, Shaw wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I can’t stand just sitting on the couch not having anything to do,” she said. “All throughout my childhood, I was always busy, my parents always pushed to do as much as I can, as best as I can and I’ll always love being busy.”

Keeping with the theme of outstanding women, the event was highlighted by a keynote address from Joannie Rochette, who was one of the biggest stories of the 2010 Olympics after she won a bronze medal just days after the sudden death of her mother. Rochette gave a passionate speech, detailing her journey from her introduction to skating at just 22 months old to the inspiring bronze medal win.

Despite her amazing story, Rochette had simple intentions with her speech. “I’m happy if the few words I can say can help in any way,” she said. “It’s great to meet [the nominees] and hopefully I can inspire them and also inspire the university to keep funding women’s sports.”

This year’s event raised $20 000 for female athletics initiatives.