Laurier’s ‘Oustanding’ woman

(Photo by Heather Davidson)
(Photo by Heather Davidson)

Olympian and TV personality Kelly Vanderbeek stood in front of nearly 250 people March 21 with one main message.

Be bold, use your community and don’t be afraid to fail.

At this year’s annual Outstanding Women of Laurier (OWL) Award luncheon, Vanderbeek delivered the keynote speech on the importance of utilizing the community surrounding people striving for success.

This came moments before the OWL winner was announced at Waterloo Inn Conference Hotel.

Fourth-year women’s hockey captain and math and biology major Fiona Lester was the recipient of the OWL award, which recognizes a female athlete at Laurier with athletic and academic achievement while displaying leadership and commitment to the community.

“It’s really exciting,” Lester said Thursday afternoon. “It’s still just sinking in to be completely honest. To be named OWL this year is crazy. There are so many great female athletes out there, so many that I’m friends with, that it’s just awesome and a great honour.”

Lester has spent the last four years as a member of the women’s hockey team. She has been an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champion twice, while being named an OUA first-team all-star twice and a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) academic all-Canadian three times.

In 2012, Lester was one of two Canadian student-athletes to be named to the Capital One Academic All-America College Division first team, while also being awarded the Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award at WLU.

During the summer, Lester spends her time working with the Laurier girls’ hockey camp as a counselor and instructor, and has worked as a supervisor with the Ontario Ranger Program.

“Like I said, it’s kind of surreal,” Lester said. “I remember being in first year and hearing about this award because [then teammate] Liz Knox was up for it and ended up winning and just thinking, ‘wow how did she do that?’ To be able to be in that position now is really exciting.”

Lester was one of three finalists out of seven female student athletes, alongside fourth-year women’s rugby captain Carmen Baker and third-year women’s basketball forward Doreen Bonsu.

“In terms of Carmen and Doreen, they’ve done so much for their team and with their things in the community and everything they do,” Lester said. “They’re both really into their academic success as well.”

The OWL award began in 2006 to acknowledge female athletes in the Laurier community. This year, the event raised approximately $18,000 to help fund women’s athletics initiatives, scholarships and mentoring programs at WLU.

Lester also commended Laurier’s efforts to promote female athletics.

“I think that it’s a great event that we have here at Laurier,” she said. “It’s exciting that we have something like this to specifically promote female athletics and it goes along with how Laurier has such support for their female athletes.

“I think this is just another way that we show that.”

Lester is finishing up her final year at WLU and says that she plans to travel in the next year before heading to grad school.

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