Shoots scores in OUA influence award

McMaster University’s Laura Shoots is being recognized through the Ontario University Athletics’ sixth annual Women of Influence Luncheon. The event pays tribute to the top female scholar-athletes from across the province and will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The designated student-athletes have excelled in their chosen sports and fields of study.

As a member of the McMaster women’s soccer team, Shoots was a four-time Marauder Scholar and Canadian Interuniversity Sport Academic All-Canadian. The Brantford resident is an Honours graduate of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program and has been a contributing member of the McMaster Athletic Council Executive that past two years, serving as social coordinator and co-outreach coordinator, and arranging for student-athletes to visit local schools as part of the McMaster Athletic Council outreach program.

In addition, Shoots was a recipient of the Dr. Ronald V. Joyce Award for Athletes and the OUA West Soccer Community Service Award in 2007 and a Second Team OUA All-Star selection in 2004. Outside of soccer, Shoots competed on two of McMaster’s club teams – the women’s flag football team as well as the women’s ice hockey club.

As a student, Shoots worked with Dr. Peter Forsyth at the University of Calgary, researching a virus that kills cancer cells while not harming normal cells. She studied how this virus kills brain cancer cells, and, if coupling this virus with other therapies, increases its effectiveness.

From Carleton University, Julie Hoo has the spotlight on her. The basketball player from Huntsville is in her fourth year with the Ravens. The veteran guard averages 3.2 points and two assists in close to 15 minutes per game.

She is the second member of the Hoo family to be recognized by the OUA Women of Influence program. Her sister, Tierney, was Laurentian University’s recipient in 2004.

Julie, a Finance student, has the highest GPA of any Carleton University varsity student-athlete participating in CIS. She is an Academic All-Canadian and recipient of a Raven Financial Award.

In addition to her accomplishments on the court and in the classroom, Julie assists the Ravens coaching staff in various clinics and community projects. She also works with the rookies in helping them with the challenges of university life and their studies.

Elizabeth Knox has starred for Wilfrid Laurier University’s hockey squad. The Sociology student from Stouffville is in her third-year and is one of the top female student leaders on campus. She is a dedicated student, athlete and citizen. While maintaining a solid B-plus average, Knox is the starting goaltender for the consistently nationally-ranked Golden Hawks. In addition to her academic achievements and her on-ice success, Knox has been involved in Laurier’s Healthy Hawk program, speaking to local elementary students about the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

A member of the 2007 and 2008 OUA champion Golden Hawks and a Second Team OUA All-Star in 2008, Knox had a save percentage of .945 while maintaining a goals against average of an astounding 0.97 during the 2007-2008 season. She was also chosen as the CIS Women’s Ice Hockey Championship All-Star goaltender in 2008.

This year, Elizabeth was chosen to represent Canada on the under-22 national women’s team and participated in a three-game series against the USA’s women’s under-22 select team in Pierrefonds, Que. in August. She has just returned from the 2009 MLP Cup, formerly the Air Canada Cup, in Ravensburg, Germany.

York University’s Autumn Mills is a third-year right winger who has been an integral part of the York Lions women’s hockey team. Last season, she helped the Lions advance to the playoffs for the first time in five years as she finished fifth in team scoring with 11 points (six goals, five assists). She has already surpassed these marks in 2008-2009.

In addition to her hockey prowess, Mills is a high-performance baseball player. She has been a pitcher with the Canadian women’s baseball team for four seasons, representing her country at events around the world, and has also won a national championship with Team Ontario.

Away from athletics, Mills is an exceptional student and a dedicated instructor and volunteer. She is in the concurrent education program at York and as part of her course load she has a teaching placement in an elementary school. She was on the CIS Academic All-Canadian honour roll last season.

When she isn’t studying or training, Mills volunteers her time coaching a men’s baseball team and working as a skill coach with a youth squad. This past summer she conducted a girls baseball camp called All Girls Baseball Day in Nova Scotia, where she and Melanie Harwood, another member of the national baseball team, led over 80 girls between the ages of five and 13 through drills and then acted as an umpire for some of their games. She has also been an instructor at Frozen Ropes Canada, a popular baseball and softball training centre.

Mills holds down two part-time jobs to put herself through school. She is the equipment manager for the Lions women’s hockey team, where she is responsible for setting up before practice and packing up equipment, and she works the morning shift for UPS.

The guest speaker for this year’s luncheon is Canadian Olympian and OUA Champion For Life Tonya Verbeek. The Brock University graduate became the first Canadian woman ever to win an Olympic medal in wresting, claiming silver in 55 kg freestyle at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Four years later in Beijing, Verbeek won a bronze medal to become the most decorated Canadian wrestler at the Olympic Games.

As an elite athlete, her accomplishments extend far beyond the mat she competes on. Tonya serves as a role model in her community, sharing her journey with students to encourage them to strive for their athletic aspirations while always emphasizing the importance of academics as well. She is an inspiring reminder that success is meant to be shared.

Tickets to the luncheon are $88.20 each (taxes included) and can be purchased by calling Lisa Constanzo at 416-923-1688 ext. 23 or via e-mail at