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Eight to be inducted into Hall of Fame

WATERLOO, Ont. (June 30, 2015) – This fall, the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawk Hall of Fame will welcome eight new members as part of the 2015 induction class.

The induction ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday, September 25 at the Waterloo Inn during Laurier’s annual Homecoming weekend.

Six athletes, one team and one builder will have their names etched into Golden Hawks history during the ceremony. Highlighting the night will be the induction of the 2005 Vanier Cup championship men’s football team along with two members from that squad, Andy Baechler and Nick Cameron. A third football player, Giancarlo Rapanaro, will also be among the athlete inductees while women’s hockey players Andrea Ironside and Lauren Barch, and women’s lacrosse player Kirsten Gerrie round out the group. Being inducted in to the builder category is Paul Giannelia, the President of Strait Crossing Inc., who has spearheaded the business plans and fundraising efforts for major athletics and recreation infrastructure projects.

The 2005 men’s football team, which captured the second Vanier Cup in Wilfrid Laurier’s history, will enter the Hall of Fame ten years removed from their thrilling championship run. Guided by head coach Gary Jeffries, the purple and gold went undefeated through the regular season, posting a perfect 8-0 record for the second consecutive year. Rolling into the playoffs as the top seed in the OUA, the Golden Hawks dispatched the McMaster Marauders in the semifinals to set up a showdown with their rivals, the Western Mustangs. In a dominant performance, the Hawks shut down the Mustangs with an outstanding defensive game plan as they won 29-11 to win their second straight Yates Cup title.

Laurier then headed out to the Maritimes to face Acadia in the Uteck Bowl, the national semifinal game. A year after losing out in the contest, the Hawks were not to be denied a trip to the championship this time around as Laurier easily defeated the Axemen 31-10 to advance to their fifth appearance in the national championship game.

Entering the Vanier Cup has underdogs to the Saskatchewan Huskies, Laurier stuck with the Canada West Champions throughout the contest. Trailing 23-21 late in the game, kicker Brian Devlin booted a 32-yard field goal that would stand up as the winning points in the contest to give the Golden Hawks the victory.

Both Andy Baechler and Nick Cameron were members of that 2005 Vanier Cup-winning team and they will also enter the Hall of Fame as individual athletes in September. A two-time Yates Cup Champion, Baechler was named the Yates Cup MVP during his first OUA Championship game in 2004, the same year he was also named an OUA All-Star twice, earning First Team All-Star honours as a kick returner and Second Team recognition as a receiver. In 2006, Baechler was named a CIS First Team All-Canadian and an OUA First Team All-Star, and in his final season in 2007, he was honoured once again as an OUA Second Team All-Star. The Ayr, Ont., native finished his career, which spanned from 2003 to 2007 third on Laurier’s all-time receiving yards list with 2,262 yards and third for career receiving touchdowns with 20.

Meanwhile, Cameron also enjoyed an outstanding career at Laurier as he was also a two-time Yates Cup Champion to go along with the Vanier Cup title. The Golden Hawks running back was the MVP of the 2005 Yates Cup game, the same year he also cracked the 1,000 yard rushing mark. For his outstanding year, the native of Norland, Ont., was named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian and an OUA First Team All-Star. Cameron currently ranks fifth on Laurier’s all-time rushing yards list with 2,402 yards in five years between 2001 and 2005, and is fifth in career rushing touchdowns with 18.

The third member of the Golden Hawks football program to be inducted this year is Rapanaro, who suited up for the purple and gold between 2006 and 2010. A member of Wilfrid Laurier’s Team of the Century as a linebacker, Rapanaro, originally from Niagara Falls, Ont., was twice named a CIS All-Canadian, first as a member of the second team in 2009 and then as a member of the first team in 2010. That same year, his final one at Laurier, he became the eighth Golden Hawk to be honoured as the top stand-up defensive player in the OUA, taking home the President’s Trophy. A three-time OUA First Team All-Star, Rapanaro finished his career with 130.5 tackles and 16.5 sacks, the latter ranking him second all-time at Laurier.

Ironside is the first of two women’s hockey players to enter the Hall of Fame in 2015. A forward who won five OUA Championships during her career between 2005-06 and 2009-10, Ironside was also a three-time CIS Tournament All-Star won three silver and one bronze medal at the CIS Championship. During the 2008-09 season, when she recorded career-highs in goals (15), assists (18) and points (33), she was named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian to go along with earning OUA All-Star honours on four occasions. The native of Collingwood, Ont., would finish with 122 points which ranks her third all-time with the Golden Hawks.

Barch joins her former teammate Ironside in representing women’s hockey in this year’s class. Suiting up for Laurier from 2005-06 to 2008-09, Barch is a four-time OUA Champion and was named the OUA Player of the Year in 2007-08. That season, she scored 15 goals and added 16 assists as she was also named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian, an OUA First Team All-Star and took home Laurier’s President’s Award as the top female athlete. Over the course of her career, the native of Burlington, Ont., was recognized as an OUA All-Star on two other occasions and in her rookie season, took home Laurier’s Rich Newbrough Rookie of the Year Award. She would finish her career with 109 points in 102 games, ranking her fifth all-time with the purple and gold.

The final athlete inducted as a part of this year’s class is Gerrie, who is also a four-time OUA Champion in women’s lacrosse. During her career from 2005 to 2008, the native of Orillia, Ont., was named an OUA All-Star each season she played and took home OUA Offensive MVP honours in 2007. That year, she led the OUA in points in 26 thanks to 17 goals and nine assists. She was also recognized with Laurier’s Rich Newbrough Rookie of the Year award back in 2005 when she scored an impressive 36 goals in her rookie campaign.

Giannelia enters the Hall of Fame in the builders category thanks to his support on a number of infrastructure projects over the years. Among the projects he has helped get off the ground are the development of the Laurier Athletics website, the construction of Alumni Field and the University Stadium renovation. Giannelia, who received the CIS Lester B. Pearson Award in 2000 as a distinguished Canadian citizen of outstanding achievements who participated in university sport, was captain of Laurier’s football team in 1967-68 and would go on to lead the development and construction of the $1-billion Confederation Bridge that spans the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner on September 25 are available for purchase on the Hall of Fame’s website. For more information on the event, please contact JON KURSIKOWSKI by phone (519-884-0710 x3289) or by e-mail (jkursikowski@wlu.ca).

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