Jeffrey Reed Courage Award Gives Voice To Mentors


 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

As a life-long competitive athlete, I’ve always found it important not to underestimate my teammates, nor my opponents. Without sounding too self-important, at the same time I’ve tried hard on and off the playing field not to assume I know everything about others.

It’s important to believe in your teammates’ abilities to come through when the game is on the line – that’s what makes a good teammate. The same is true about your opponents: never underestimate them. And unless you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, then judging their character is a major flaw of your own.

Jeffrey Reed (with bat) and Majors teammates at Labatt Park 2000.

Throughout my career in sports, during minor baseball, high-school cross country races, pitching for the London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League, and still today as a golf professional, bullying has always been a part of my life – you can read my story, Diamond Dream, here. People are often afraid of what they don’t understand, or more often than not don’t take the time to understand. That’s a big reason why, in 2010, I hit golf balls for eight straight hours to raise money for and awareness of the London Anti-Bullying Coalition.

In late-2015, my wife Beth and I decided the best way we could encourage others who face a myriad of challenges in sports and in life was to create an annual award. This year, the 3rd Annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award will again recognize a Southwestern Ontario athlete, amateur or professional, who has faced enormous odds in succeeding in sports.

We’re extremely proud of our first two winners, both members of the Fanshawe Falcons women’s soccer team: 2016 winner Chelsea Zavitz, who overcame severe concussions to play for the League1 Ontario champion FC London women’s soccer club; and 2017 winner Ali Vlasman, who faced personal tragedy and learning disabilities before excelling in Falcons soccer and basketball, and in the classroom.

2016 Jeffrey Reed Courage Award winner Chelsea Zavitz with Jeffrey Reed

Nominations for the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award are now open, and close March 31, 2018. Athletes must write a 1,000-word essay on their challenges, and how they have overcome them. The winner will receive a $1,000 cheque and plaque at a June awards banquet.

“As a highly-competitive athlete in multiple sports, I know that many athletes face barriers that are not always seen as impeding their ability to achieving goals. The Jeffrey Reed Courage Award recognizes these obstacles, and how an individual athlete chooses to overcome them,” Zavitz said.

“Even now, as an ambassador of this award, I continue to face challenges but I choose to do so with optimism, and by staying active within my community through volunteering as a youth soccer coach,” Zavitz added. “I encourage any area athlete who has overcome obstacles to apply for this award, so that they can inspire others, too.”

Jeffrey Reed with 2017 Courage Award winner Ali Vlasman

“I’m aware that my new role as an ambassador through the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award means people may recognize me as a Fanshawe Falcons athlete, and that I am now responsible for mentoring others,” Vlasman said. “Winning the award last year has pushed me to become a better version of the athlete that I was, and it has inspired me to be driven as I set and work hard to achieve new goals.

“I welcome the role of taking others under my wing in order to help them succeed,” Vlasman added. “It brings me joy knowing that I can make a difference in their lives. I encourage others to nominate themselves for this award. When you write your essay, it will remind you that anything is possible.”

You can read complete biographies of these athletes at LondonOntarioSports.com here and here.

The 2018 athletes’ nomination page is here.

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Jeffrey Reed is a long-time member of the London sports media, and publisher/editor of LondonOntarioSports.com, and LondonOntarioGolf.com. Have a story idea for Jeffrey? Reach him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989.

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