Athletic skills, academic smarts earn duo top honours at Mac

Laura Shoots (Brantford) and Nathan Cox (Blenheim, ON) are this year’s the winners of the Dr. Mary E. Keys and Dr. Jack Kennedy awards for McMaster University’s Top Female and Male Marauder Scholars. The awards were presented at Sunday’s (June 1) 12th Annual Marauder Scholar brunch as a part of McMaster Alumni weekend.

McMaster also recognized 275 Student-Athletes who achieved a grade point average of 9.5 over 24 units of work (Dean’s Honour List). Over one-third of McMaster student-athletes earn this distinction.

Shoots is a member of Mac’s women’s soccer team and a four-time Marauder Scholar and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Academic All-Canadian. A new honours graduate of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, Shoots has been a contributing member of the McMaster Athletic Council Executive that past two years, serving as social coordinator and co-outreach coordinator, arranging for student-athletes to visit local schools as part of the McMaster Athletic Council (MAC.) outreach program.

In addition, the fourth-year Health Science student received the Dr. Ronald V. Joyce Award for Athletes and the Ontario University Athletics West Soccer Community Service Award in 2007. She was a second team OUA all-star in 2004. Outside of soccer, Shoots competes on two of McMaster’s women’s club teams – flag football and hockey.

She spent last summer working for Dr. Peter Forsyth at the University of Calgary, researching a virus that kills cancer cells, but not normal cells. She studied how this virus kills brain cancer cells, and, if coupling this virus with other therapies, increases it’s effectiveness.

Cox is a third-year Electrical Engineering student and captain’s the men’s swim team. A regular member of the Dean’s Honour List, Cox has been awarded the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada undergraduate student research award twice over the past two summers. A member of the team’s community outreach, he has helped with swimming related activities at the Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton, run high school meets and participated in the Terry Fox Run as well as the Relay for Life, raising money for cancer research.

He is a two-time CIS qualifier and relay medalist as well as a teaching assistant for first-year Engineering students and research assistant under Dr. Nicola Nicolici. Cox plans to return to McMaster in the hopes of qualifying for nationals for a third straight year, while continuing his outstanding academic pursuits.

The two awards are presented annually, in honor of Dr. Mary E. Keyes and Dr. Jack Kennedy, to a female and male undergraduate student-athlete who best combines outstanding academic achievement and athletic excellence. Candidates exemplify the high ideals of Keyes and Kennedy, including the qualities of excellence, integrity, community involvement and the development of the whole student-athlete.

Keyes was a key figure in the development of women’s sport at McMaster. During her early years on the McMaster faculty, she coached the women’s swim and basketball teams. She served as President of the Canadian Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Union and was a key member of the Amalgamation Committee that led to the formation of the CIS. >From 1981-87, Keyes was the Director of the School of Physical Education and Athletics. She held the position of Associate Vice President of Student Affairs at McMaster until her death in 2002.

Kennedy was an Associate Professor of Physical Education from 1965-87 and head football coach from 1966-72, guiding his team to the Atlantic Bowl Championship and College Bowl final in 1967. He was Director of Athletics from 1969-1974 and head coach of the women’s ice hockey team from 1976-1983, leading the team to OWIAA and North American championships in 1978. He retired in 1987 after an impressive 34 years of coaching.