Laurier Grads Soar is a multi-part series that has returned for the 2017-18 year. The segment features former Wilfrid Laurier University 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, different features will be released throughout the year that will emphasize the role Athletics and Recreation played in helping them achieve success.Alyssa Lagonia: Professional Soccer Player
Back in her high school days, Alyssa Lagonia was like most talented teenage athletes, who heard all the hype and commotion about unbelievable opportunities to play sport, and excel, at a university in the United States.
The Kitchener native admitted the interest was initially captivating and powerfully persuasive.
All that changed after Barry MacLean
, a reputable soccer coach and individual, whom she went on to learn from, trust and admire, approached Lagonia.
There were conversations with him to visit a Canadian university campus, play for a dominant team and benefit from a superb education. Lagonia figured it was worth the time to check it out and now, many years later, she was quite candid about that campus visit in 2007 – and credits MacLean for having a huge impact on her life.
“It was all there at Laurier, I was hooked and it became the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Lagonia. “As a youngster, I always thought that to excel in sport, it was through the NCAA – because there were no real options in Canada.
“For me, there was something much better than the NCAA – Laurier. It’s an amazing school. I benefitted from a great coach who was integral to my soccer success, attended a superb Business school on a lovely campus, and couldn’t believe everything was so close to home.”
Lagonia was just four years old when soccer became part of her life. Her father was a coach, older brother played the sport, and she often tagged along to watch or play the house league version. The soccer passion continued at St. Daniel Elementary School before moving on to Grand River Collegiate where she was soccer MVP and, later, Athlete of the Year.
The best was yet to come - four years at Laurier, which included multiple all-star and all-Canadian awards, MVP in Ontario and, in her graduating year, chosen the most outstanding female university soccer player in Canada. There’s more.
Tack on six major awards at Laurier – from Rookie of the Year to Team MVP and Community Leadership to the prestigious President’s Award as the top female athlete in 2012. Throughout her Laurier career, she played on one of the best squads in the country and was on one championship team.
“I am a very fortunate individual and so thankful to have learned so much while at Laurier that it has helped me long after I graduated,” said Lagonia, who also excelled in the classroom, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Business Administration. “So many great friends, teammates. I am convinced that I wouldn’t be where I am today without everything I learned while at Laurier.”
With amazing successes, a standout midfielder on the soccer field, it’s alright to be envious of Lagonia, who took time off while at Laurier to play for Canada’s under-20 squad at the World Cup in Chile and was also a member of Canada’s Senior National Team.
Creatively focused, Lagonia went on to play six professional seasons. It all started with the Toronto Lady Lynx and Ottawa Fury followed by Doncaster Rovers Football Club (England), Bardolino Verona (Italy) and Neunkirch (Switzerland), where she was captain of a championship team.
Now, with Apollon (Cyprus), Lagonia is cognizant that the clock is ticking on a brilliant and gifted playing career. It’s what comes next that has her a bit perplexed.
Well educated, known by many for her classy personality, enthusiasm and desire to help others in many ways, Lagonia could very well end up sticking with the sport she adores – but in the capacity of an ambassador to promote the women’s game.
“I have lived my dream and know it’s an interesting time in my life - and I’m on the verge of retiring because you can only play for so long,” said Lagonia. “But there still is this burning passion to be involved in the sport and, seeing the way the game is played around the world, I want to be a change-maker and help better promote the women’s game.”
Lagonia, who has coached and not ruled out opening her own business down the road, is interested in the FIFA Sport Management Masters Program – a unique opportunity offered by the International Centre for Sport Studies, in partnership with three European universities, to develop managers who can cope with the increasingly complex world of sport.
-END-David Grossman is a veteran award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 40+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.Previous FeaturesSteve Griggs - Chief Executive Officer and President, Tampa Bay LightningSophie Kotsopoulos - Senior Director of Integrated Marketing, National Hockey LeagueMike McKenna - Former Director, Telecom, Media and Technology Investment BankingNicole Lee - Director of Integrated Marketing, National Hockey LeagueMike Bartlett - Executive Director, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment FoundationRebecca Watts - Manager, 2017 World Junior Hockey ChampionshipHugh Lawson - Director of Business Development, Staples Promotional ProductsCheryl Pounder - Former Canadian National Women's Hockey Team MemberJohn Morris - 2010 Olympic Men's Curling Gold MedalistBill Burke - Chief Executive Officer and Owner, Niagara Ice DogsTania Pedron - Manager of Administration and Operations, Maple Leafs Sport and EntertainmentWayne Kemick - BMO Wealth AdvisorDenise Burke - President, Niagara Ice DogsKevin McDonald - Vice President of Football Operations and Player Safety, CFLDr. Megan Yaraskavitch - NeurologistAndrew Agro - Director of Corporate Sponsorship and Business Development, New York JetsMarcia Powers-Dunlop - Senior Manager of Professional Support Services, Toronto District School BoardJoe Vernon - Lawyer, Miller CanfieldEmily Rudow - Founder, Oneiric HockeyTodd Cooney - Vice President and Broker, CBRE LimitedJennifer Elliott - Sports Information Officer, uOttawa Gee-GeesRohan Thompson - Social Worker and Professor, Conestoga CollegeDr. Fiona Aiston - Family DoctorJeremy Hedges - Founder and President, InksmithSadie Anderson - FirefighterAndrea Elliott - Sports Information Specialist, Ryerson Rams