Ottawa, ON. . . The Woodstock High School Lady Thunder hockey team was named as recipients of the ‘Grace Under Pressure’ award from the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) today. The girls on the ice hockey team from the school in Woodstock, New Brunswick, took a positive approach to anti-lesbian messages posted on Facebook and the refusal of another team to shake hands after games. The actions took place after two girls on the team made it public knowledge that they were lesbians.
When the whole team was then taunted with homophobic slurs, the girls didn’t respond in kind, but rather found a positive way of dealing with the issue. In a striking display of solidarity from the players, they approached the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and all 18 team members wore rainbow-striped pins, with the words "No Homophobia," to their games. The move also opened up the opportunity for dialogue with other teams in the province and resulted in the pins being shared with a team from northern New Brunswick.
CAAWS chair, Nicole Smith, commended the team for its response to blatant homophobia. “They found such an enlightened way to support their teammates, educate other people, and encourage open and honest dialogue on the issue. The way they dealt with this situation exhibited all of the elements that we established when we created this award.”
The award was presented Saturday evening at the Sport New Brunswick awards dinner. Earlier this year, the team also received the provincial human rights award from the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.
In 1994, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity lunched the ‘Grace Under Pressure’ award. It honours women whose accomplishments transcend demanding circumstances, women who ‘beat the odds’ and showed poise, composure, class and grace during difficult and potentially emotional times. The award is not an annual award – it is awarded only in those years when exceptional circumstances are demonstrated.
The Woodstock High School Lady Thunder ice hockey team joins a long list of Canadian women who have overcome incredible obstacles and challenges in pursuit of their dreams. Previous recipients include:
1994 - Sylvie Fréchette – for her ability to win an Olympic medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona in synchronized swimming after suffering a deep personal tragedy just prior to the Games; she showed tremendous class and courage for the next two years as the IOC reviewed the circumstances around the medal performances in Barcelona and eventually awarded a second gold medal in the solo event to Sylvie
1996 – Canada’s Women’s Tour de France Team – for placing third in the demanding Tour de France event after suffering a devastating crash early in the event and the robbery of all their equipment.
1997 – Silken Laumann – for her unbelievable courage in fighting back from a shattered tibia and five operations only 2 months before the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games to win the bronze medal in the single sculls event.
2000 – Sonia Denoncourt – the first women to officiate a men’s pro soccer game, she withstood the jeering of an all-male crowd in soccer crazed Brazil and held her ground while issuing yellow cards to five players and a red card to one player; she also officiated the opening game of the Women’s World Cup held in the USA in July 1999 before 80,000 spectators.
2002 – Danièle Sauvageau - who stood tall at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, holding her ground and showing remarkable composure and confidence in an unbelievably exciting and Gold-Medal women’s hockey game against Team USA. She and her team brought home the gold medal to Canada, and Danièle showed remarkable composure and class during a tough and demanding time both pre and during the Olympic Games.
2004 – Beckie Scott for her outspoken stand on anti-doping and drug-free competition. Her valiant fight, pressuring the International Ski Federation and the International Olympic Committee, resulted in her bronze medal from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City being upgraded first to a silver, and then after a long 22-month struggle, to earn her rightful place as an Olympic Gold Medalist.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS