Laurier Grads Soar is a ten-part series that features former Wilfrid Laurier University varsity athletes and student-leaders in the Athletics and Recreation Department and the success they have enjoyed since leaving Laurier. Written by award-winning journalist David Grossman, a different feature will be released each week over a nine-week span that will emphasize the role Athletics and Recreation played in helping them achieve success.Hugh Lawson - Director of Business Development, Staples Promotional Products
Hugh Lawson is no different from anyone else, whether it’s handling a tough series of classes, a stressful commitment to things that have to get done or even a challenging day at the office.
Highly intellectual, very pragmatic in dealing with things sensibly, Lawson knows about expectations, focuses on the task and digs deep to be effective and productive.
Life has been good to Lawson, from his days as a student and athlete at Wilfrid Laurier University, to the opportunity of playing professional football, his determination to help others and the career job where he has been a three-time recipient of a Sales Excellence Award.
But he also needs a comfort zone.
And for the muscular and former defensive end, drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, his time away from the demands and challenges as Director of Business Development for Staples Promotional Products just might surprise you.
Fond of men’s fashion, a watch collector, fascinated by the science of boxing and a fan of hip hop, Lawson is quite enthusiastic about racing radio-controlled cars. So much so, that he’s quite active in competitions in places like Italy and Japan.
“Everyone needs time to do something different and my passion is racing cars,” said Lawson, who earned his Degree in Communication Studies. “Boxing is also something I enjoy and train with a heavy bag in the basement of my home.”
A big guy, Lawson knew his dimensions wouldn’t allow him to be behind the wheel of the sporty vehicles. So, he focused on racing the ones that were about three feet in length.
Toronto-born, Lawson grew up in Mississauga and when it came to post-secondary education, he was focused on a university that, he claims, promised him an opportunity to play football. It didn’t work out that way and took a detour from London.
“I was this 6-foot-3, 200-pound teenager with football on my mind and it was Western; while Laurier wasn’t on my radar back then,” he said. “But after I took a visit to the campus with my parents, I saw that Laurier appreciated me, people were sincere and honest, and I just knew Laurier won me over and that I made the right choice. Everything happens for a reason.”
While there are times when a burly football lineman can’t wait to display his strength, Lawson did that as a Golden Hawk. Team captain and chosen a league all-star, Lawson was on the squad that won the Ontario University Athletics Association title in 1991. A few weeks later, it was that same team that won the National championship in Toronto.
“Then Vanier Cup year was an odyssey – a very special time of my life and a highlight at Laurier,” recalled Lawson. “I can remember the groundswell of support from fans, students, staff and the community. It was a remarkable time.”
Lawson was at a loss for words when the telephone call came confirming that he would be among the 2016 Laurier Hall of Fame inductees.
“Gosh was I happy, one of the special moments of my life,” he said. “Imagine the feeling – you’re being immortalized.”
For Lawson, he has done a lot of good things and there are no cutting corners – including involvement in community events. He’s made a financial commitment to a summer academy program for the advancement of young black men in the Greater Toronto Area. Lawson also is active with a mentor access employment project that assists new Canadians.Previous FeaturesWeek 1 - Steve Griggs - Chief Executive Officer and President, Tampa Bay LightningWeek 2 - Sophie Kotsopoulos - Senior Director of Integrated Marketing, National Hockey LeagueWeek 3 - Mike McKenna - Former Director, Telecom, Media and Technology Investment BankingWeek 4 - Nicole Lee - Director of Integrated Marketing, National Hockey LeagueWeek 5 - Mike Bartlett - Executive Director, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Foundation
Week 6 - Rebecca Watts - Manager, 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship