Lauren, born in 1981 in Calgary, came into the world missing her legs below the knee and left arm below the elbow. She never saw herself as having any disability and her mother recounts a story that is testament to her daughter’s tenacity. Lauren came home from school one day and without telling anyone went down into the basement and wouldn’t leave until she’d taught herself how to skip rope.
She started skiing in Whitefish, Montana on family ski holidays at the age of four and began competitive racing with the Alberta Disabled Ski Team when she was just fourteen. In 1999, she moved to Victoria to attend university and her remarkable success story really got started.
Lauren was a member of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team (CPAST) from 1998 until her retirement after the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. She represented Canada at the 2002 and the 2006 Paralympic Games winning three gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
She was named Top Female Athlete in the 2002 games. In 2010, with the Paralympics in Vancouver, she was in top form and by now had accumulated over fifty World Cup medals, eight world championship titles, and was named the 2006 International Paralympic Committee Athlete of the Year. She had also completed her degree (Bachelor of Engineering with Distinction) at UVIC and taken a job with BC Hydro as an electrical engineer.
She was Canada’s most decorated Winter Paralympian of all-time going into the 2010 Paralympics. At those Games in Vancouver, Lauren became the first Canadian winter Paralympian to win five gold medals at a single Games. She didn’t just win her events; she dominated, winning the Super Combined, Downhill, Super G, Slalom, and Giant Slalom by a combined thirty-five seconds. For her stunning accomplishment she was named Canada's flag bearer for the closing ceremonies.
The Globe and Mail named Lauren among Canadian sport’s “Power 50” in February 2011 and British Columbian’s named Lauren “BC’s best” in a public online vote for Sport BC’s 2010 Best of BC Award. Lauren was also named one of the most influential women of 2010 by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Advancement (CAAWS) and was named by the Vancouver Sun in BC’s “Top 100 Women of Influence of 2010.”
A year after retiring, Lauren’s signal achievements were recognized with induction into the Alberta, British Columbia, and Canadian Sport Halls of Fame. In 2012 she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Paralympic Sport. Lauren will always be known as Canada’s Paralympic Winter Games “Golden Girl.”
Lauren currently sits as a Board Member for ViaSport - a non-profit agency leading the transformation of amateur sport in BC.
SPONSORED BY MANN, MOULSON & CO.
From Gabriola Island to Northern Ireland, Ike’s soccer journey covered many miles. The first three years of his life were spent on Gabriola Island and from three to twenty-three, he lived in Victoria. It was there that he had to choose between soccer and hockey. "I really liked hockey," he says, "but we could only train twice a week for one hour. There were only two arenas in Victoria at that time.”
Hockey's loss was soccer's gain, and in grade 11 his Oak Bay team won the BC championship. The next year he played for Victoria United. In his second year with Victoria United (the Victoria O’Keefes) he won the Kennedy Cup, which was made up of two teams from California, one team from BC and the Mexican National team. At 17 he was selected for the BC-U21 team that won the Canadian championship. Ike would win two more with Vic West, when he was 33 and 36 years old. At 18 he played for Canada in the Olympic preliminaries and Pan American Games.
The following summer he signed a professional contract with the Vancouver Royals of the North American Soccer League. One of the most talented players in Canadian soccer history, Ike's career was unique in that he accomplished it in an era when a soccer career was measured by a players’ success in the Greater Victoria Soccer League or the Pacific Coast Soccer League. Instead, Ike broke barriers by travelling to Europe to compete in the Northern Ireland Football League after three years of university.
He returned and finished a Bachelor's degree at UVIC and was player coach in his last year. He then completed an MA in physical education at the University of Alberta, winning the Canadian University Soccer Championship. From 1976 to 1978, Ike played for the Portland Timbers of the NASL, which was interspersed with bouts on Canada’s World Cup team.
"There were no training camps for weeks on end. We got together a week before the tournament and that was about it." Qualifying for the World Cup was difficult because Canada always had to beat Mexico whose home game was at high altitude with very polluted air.
Ike moved back to Gabriola in 1975 and taught physical education in Nanaimo for 17 years. It was there that the game of Futsal (five vs. five indoor soccer) caught his eye and he went on to coach both the men's and women's national teams.
SPONSORED BY VANCOUVER ISLAND SOCCER