When I started writing these articles a few issues back, I noted that “off-field” accomplishments of athletes often go unnoticed at various levels in sport. One sports team however that has certainly not gone unnoticed over the past four years is the Acadia Axewomen soccer team. With Caoimhe McParland [Kee-vah] winning the 2014 CIS Student-Athlete Community Service Award, a member of the Axewomen soccer team has now won this award three of the last four years. McParland has followed in the footsteps of her current teammate, Alana Fairfax, who captured the award in 2012, as well as Cathleen Bleakney, who was the 2011 winner.
This is a phenomenal accomplishment for the Axewomen and Acadia Athletics as a whole, considering that the University of Alberta is the only other CIS University in the country with three winners in the last ten years. As this award is presented to the CIS student-athletes who best exemplify the attributes of academic and athletic success, as well as community support, it is clear that the Axewomen soccer team is committed to these values.
In speaking with Acadia Athletic Director Kevin Dickie about the impact that this award has on Acadia Athletics, he expressed how extremely proud he is of what McParland has accomplished. “She completely gets the student athlete experience and really exemplifies what it is to be a model student-athlete,” said Dickie. “She loves her sport but more importantly realizes that her sport can help her in so many ways, including being a role model in the community.”
The process of McParland winning this award began when she won the AUS Student-Athlete Community Service award this year, making her a finalist for the CIS award. This is another award that has been equally dominated by the Axewomen, having won the award four straight years, including back-to-back wins by Fairfax in 2012 and 2013.
As a fourth year CB for the Axewomen, McParland’s off the field accomplishments include being a CIS Academic All-Canadian and currently maintaining a GPA of 3.97. It is her involvement in the community that makes her a true standout, boasting involvement in countless initiatives. A short list of her involvement includes a position as VP Medical for the Acadia chapter of Global Medical Brigades, as well as volunteering with the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program, Wolfville Nursing Home, Kinderskills Acadia, Acadia Mental Health Society, Hants Community Hospital, Acadia’s WITS anti-bullying program, Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centre, and the Dare Campaign. Any of these things individually would be an accomplishment, but it is McParland’s ability to manage all these activities while also performing them all with such a high level of success that is truly impressive. “Her resume speaks for itself,” said Dickie, “as does her amazing GPA when you consider all of the time and effort that she puts into athletics and her community.”
In a statement by Axewomen head coach Amit Batra, she captured the point that these articles are meant to encompass; “[Caoimhe’s] impact on the community largely goes unnoticed because she just contributes as part of her daily life”. The point is that while athletes such as Caoimhe are not out in the community making a difference with the expectation of recognition or rewards, it is well deserved, and awards such as this are one way that we can properly honour those who go above and beyond. The CIS has done a great job of having this award on the same level of prestige as some of their strictly on-field awards, and showing that the activities off the field hold the same value and importance.
As the academic year continues on, and more CIS sports get underway, Acadia athletes (and athletes around the country) should take this article as an example of how they can use their presence as a role model to make a big difference in their community. With the continued commitment of the Axewomen soccer team, I am confident that we will be writing an article this time next year, celebrating their fourth award in five years.
Be sure to follow @AxesForChange on Twitter for more great content of Acadia Axemen and Axewomen making a positive change in their community.