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Exceptional Legacy as Stellar Student Athlete for Laurier’s Jacky Normandeau

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With a remarkable number of superlative competitors that have donned the team colours of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s ice hockey program over the last two dazzling decades, distinguished competitors such as Jacky Normandeau help to maintain this remarkable hallmark in program history. Part of a new generation of inspiring women, Normandeau assembled a tremendous body of work that saw her establish herself as one of the greatest student-athletes in university history.

A tremendous two-sport star who was just as proficient on the soccer pitch, Normandeau’s athletic triumphs took on tremendous luster in her rookie season. Of note, the 2013-14 season resulted in Normandeau capturing OUA championships with both the soccer and hockey programs, becoming the first student athlete in the 53-year history of Golden Hawks athletics to win two OUA championships in the same season. Such an historic feat stands as the most cherished in the chronology of her Golden Hawks career,

“My favourite moment had to be winning both OUA championships in my first year. I could not believe it was real for soccer in the first place and then when I was on the bottom of the pile-up in hockey when we beat Queens for the championship 3 months later despite being crushed it was definitely my best moment at Laurier.”

Following such an exceptional season, Normandeau was recognized as the recipient of the university’s Rich Newbrough Female Rookie of the Year Award. In addition, she was bestowed the honour of the women’s ice hockey team’s Rookie of the Year Award, respectively.

Raised in Uxbridge, Ontario, such an honour would prove to be prologue. With a career that included gracing the ice in 79 games for the women’s ice hockey program, along with 61 starts on the soccer pitch, which included 14 career goals, the biology major was also a two-time recipient of the university’s Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, which recognizes a combination of academic and athletic achievement.

Starting the 2016-17 season on a record-breaking note, with a single-game scoring record of five goals in a soccer game, as the Golden Hawks blanked the Algoma Thunderbirds by an 8-0 tally, gaining Laurier Athlete of the Week honours. From a hockey perspective, Normandeau would be recognized as an alternate captain, providing head coach Rick Osborne with a solid leadership presence.

In the aftermath of the 2015-16 season, she won the Outstanding Woman of Laurier Award, which included finalists Suzanne Bourouman, a teammate from the soccer team who plays the midfield position, along with curling sensation Evie Fortier. It was part of a season that also saw her garner OUA Second Team All-Star recognition in soccer.

Becoming the fifth women’s ice hockey player to capture the OWL Award, the  most of any varsity sport in university history, Normandeau joins a distinguished class of recipients. The other wondrous women of hockey that gained this prestigious honour included Fiona Aiston (2006), who was the inaugural winner of the award, followed by Lauren Meschino (2008), goaltender Liz Knox (2010), who would also win the Brodrick Trophy in the same year, along with Fiona Lester (2013).

As a side note, the 2017 edition of the Award saw fellow hockey teammate Giuliana Pallotta named a Finalist. Both were part of the hockey team’s Class of 2017, which included goaltender Amanda Smith, blueliner Catie Thomson, and forwards Dollee Meigs, Heather Platt and Jessica Prevette.

Reflecting on the honour of the OWL, there is a profound sense of teamwork for the studious Normandeau. Of note, her ability to balance sporting endeavors with great aptitude in the classroom while committing to volunteer work with the Laurier Lettermen’s Club efforts in the Running and Reading Program, plus hospital visits, running the athlete’s study hall and coaching at girl’s hockey camps run by Tara McKay and Jayna Hefford, serves to elevate the drive for success, one which definitely escalated her to the prestige of icon in Laurier athletic lore.

In the grand narrative of such a fascinating athletic odyssey, it is one that she feels is a shared triumph with her supportive parents,

“Winning OWL was a huge surprise because there are so many outstanding female athletes at Laurier. It reflects on my upbringing by my incredibly supportive parents.

They always believed that I could accomplish my goals and that’s what prompted me to try and play two sports at Laurier in the first place. I have them to thank for my great athletic career and work ethic to get through all the academics along with that.

I am very glad I could give back to the Waterloo community and represent Laurier athletics as a volunteer with after school programs and outreach as well – that’s an important part of our athletic program that I’m happy I could be a part of.”

With such an impressive list of awards and accolades, Normandau’s sensational body of work was not yet complete. Representing the potential of student-athletes to be a tremendous influence and model citizens on campus, Normandeau’s memorable time at Laurier culminated with a tremendous honour that solidified her stature,

Recognized as a College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) at-large Second Team All-Academic, Normandeau became only the third student-athlete in Laurier history to achieve this rare feat. Fiona Lester, who was the first women’s ice hockey player in program history to gain this honor in 2012 (along with the OWL Award in 2013), plus football wide receiver Dillon Heap were the first two.

“I was shocked when I found out about the award. I didn’t realize that it existed and am very honoured to be included in the group of amazing athletes that win this award.

It’s a testament to Laurier’s commitment to academics and all the support the athletics department provides to their athletes so that we can succeed in school as well as on the field.”

Taking into account that the CoSIDA All-Academic program is American-based, the prestige is one that is most worthy of Normandeau’s career at Laurier, celebrating a series of achievements that have established her as a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. With tremendous graciousness, she represents the hope and dreams of other student athletes to one day make their own mark in the world of sport, serving as a source of inspiration,

“This is a great honour to be a Canadian winning this award. It feels great to represent Laurier and Canada on an American stage as well as within the CIS. I think it reflects well on Laurier to have athletes on this list for sure so I’m glad I can help with Laurier’s legacy on that front.”

Already a legendary figure in Laurier athletics, Normandeau’s career is destined to be reflected upon with a romantic nostalgia, the kind of exceptional athlete that others will have been proud to have called teammate and friend. In terms of athletic milestones in her final season at Laurier, her final soccer season resulted in ranking seventh in the OUA in goals scored. Her last goal would take place on October 14, 2016 in a 2-2 tie at Windsor while her final game was an October 20 with McMaster.

At the rink, Normandeau saw action in 23 games. Opening the season with an assist in the home opener against Waterloo on October 15, it was a fitting achievement for Normandeau. Of note, she would assist on the Golden Hawks first goal of the season, as Jessica Prevette scored short-handed against Taylor Reimer.

While Windsor would play another prominent role in Normandeau’s final season, as they served as the opposition for the Golden Hawks’ senior night on February 19, another notable date would be November 5, 2016. Taking on the nationally ranked Nipissing Lakers, a second period goal against Jacqueline Rochefort, the eventual recipient of Nipissing’s Female Athlete of the Year Award, would signify the last goal in her storied career. Logging the assists on said goal were freshmen Emily Woodhouse, the team’s 2017 Rookie of the Year and MVP award recipient, and Aynsley Harrison.

Although the focus this year involves further pursuit of her academic goals, which also involves balancing such ambitions with work as a field technician, the opportunity to help shape the athletic ethos at Laurier is one that Normandeau shall eternally treasure. Undoubtedly, her greatness will never be taken for granted, as the thrill of donning the purple and gold colours of such a proud program shall always hold a cherished place in heart,

“I miss my teammates the most for sure. I still talk to a lot of them and miss going through the weekly grind of practices and workouts and the fun of weekend games and road trips.

The atmosphere at Laurier was incredible. I miss my hockey friends yelling when then walked past soccer practice and my soccer teammates coming to watch hockey games with funny signs. It’s such a supportive community and I’m glad I appreciated that while I was studying there as well.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credits: Kha Vo, Luke Sarazin

Class of 2017 image obtained from Facebook

Video still of OWL award from: Jamie Howieson

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