WATERLOO, Ont. (March 12, 2018) - Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Athletics and Recreation has announced the three finalists for this year’s Outstanding Women of Laurier Award. The annual award will be presented at a dinner on Thursday, March 29th at Bingemans Conference Centre.
Being awarded for the 13th time, the Outstanding Women of Laurier (OWL) Award recognizes a female Laurier student who combines athletic and academic achievement with an active commitment to leadership and the development of young athletes through community teaching or coaching. The event has generated close to $350,000 for women's athletic programs, scholarships and Laurier's mentor coaching program since it began in 2006.
Georgia Simmerling, a multisport Olympian who became the first Canadian athlete to compete in a different sport in three separate Olympic Games, will deliver the keynote address, while Susan Cook-Scheerer, former Host and Associate Producer of daytime on Rogers TV, will host the event.
The finalists for the Outstanding Women of Laurier Award include (in alphabetical order): Jessa Braun:
Braun is a third-year health administration major from Kitchener, Ont., and runner for the Laurier Brantford Golden Hawks cross country team who is the first Laurier Brantford student to be named a finalist for the Outstanding Women of Laurier Award. A pioneer of varsity sport on Laurier’s Brantford campus, Braun was one of the first athletes to don the purple and gold in varsity competition when she joined the cross country team in their inaugural season last year. She quickly became the team’s top runner and this past season, finished 19th at the OCAA Cross Country Championships in October. That result qualified her for the CCAA Cross Country Championships where she became the first Laurier Brantford runner to ever cross the national championship finish line, placing 79th. Away from running, Braun is also active in her community, serving as a soccer coach with Grand River CI and the Kitchener Soccer club and a fitness instructor with Laurier Brantford and the Brantford YMCA. She also founded shescores.ca, a web platform that aims to empower female athletes in a variety of ways, including working with partners like the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Emily Ferguson:
Ferguson is a third-year kinesiology and physical education major from Waterloo, Ont., and a defender for the Golden Hawks women’s lacrosse team. As captain of her team, Ferguson has been a key member of the purple and gold since joining the squad back in 2015. In her first year with the team, she was named the lacrosse Rookie of the Year and an OUA Academic Achievement Award recipient, and has built on that success each season, capping the 2017 campaign by being named an OUA First Team All-Star. Her on-field play has been crucial to her team’s success the last three years as the Hawks have played in the OUA Bronze Medal game the last three years, capturing a medal in 2016. Off the field, Ferguson has dedicated her time as a coach in both field lacrosse and ringette while starting up a ringette goaltending clinic, PUSH Goaltending, which operates in the Waterloo Region. She has also taken on the task of mentoring her peers at Laurier, serving as an Athlete Academic Coach with the Athlete Academic Success Program and also serving as a peer tutor with the Accessible Learning Centre.Bridget Ribau:
Ribau is a fourth-year kinesiology and physical education major from Oakville, Ont., and lead for the Golden Hawks women’s curling team. A CIS Academic All-Canadian in 2015-16, Ribau was named to Laurier’s varsity team for the first time this season where she played a key role in helping the purple and gold return to the top of the OUA. Ribau and her teammates defeated the reigning U SPORTS gold and silver medalists at the OUA Championships to capture the program’s sixth conference title in the last eight years, and in the process, qualified for this month’s U SPORTS Championships in Alberta. Outside of her varsity commitments on the ice, Ribau has been actively involved in the curling community and around Laurier. She has served an instructor for youth curling camps at the Oakville Curling club since 2011, helping to develop young curlers to become provincial-level athletes. On campus, Ribau spent this past year volunteering with the I Move My Mood program, spreading information on the link between physical activity and mental health. She also has volunteered with a Parkinson’s exercise program, instructing individuals with movement disorders through a tri-weekly group exercise program.
Simmerling, this year’s keynote speaker, began her Olympic journey in Alpine skiing, debuting her talent at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Shortly thereafter, she went on to pursue the Canadian Ski Cross National Team, where she notched five World Cups to her belt, along with making an appearance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics before earning a second place world ranking.
After suffering an injury that derailed her 2014-15 ski season, Simmerling looked to continue her athletic stride in new capacities. As a result, Simmerling took up cycling, and quickly became one of the best track cyclists in the world as she found herself on the Canadian Track Cycling National Team.
Not only did she become a national champion during her very first appearance at the Canadian Nationals, she also helped her team to a first place finish while competing in her first Track Cycling World Cup, in addition to adding a silver medal at the 2016 Track Cycling World Championships.
Due to her incredible performances in these events, Simmerling then headed to her first Summer Olympic Games in 2016. There in Rio, Simmerling and her teammates won bronze medal for Canada in the team pursuit cycling event for the second consecutive Games.
Poised to return to the Olympics this year with the Ski Cross National Team, Simmerling’s bid to compete in a fourth Games was halted when she broke both her legs in January at the final ski cross World Cup event prior to PyeongChang.
Aside from skiing and cycling, Simmerling is an avid supporter of various charities, specifically Right To Play and Fast & Female, that work to empower and educate youth through sport.
The Outstanding Women of Laurier leadership sponsors include: RBC Royal Bank, Miller Thomson LLP, Enterprise, the Laurier Alumni Association and Unitron.
For more information about the Outstanding Women of Laurier dinner, or to purchase tickets online, please visit www.laurierathletics.com/owl