Ali Vlasman 2017 Jeffrey Reed Courage Award Winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 6, 2017 (London, ONT) – LondonOntarioSports.com has selected Fanshawe Falcons’ women’s basketball and soccer standout, Ali Vlasman, winner of the 2nd Annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award.

Ali, 23, of Mount Elgin, Ont. will receive a plaque and $1,000 from LondonOntarioSports.com during an awards luncheon June 9 at Highland Country Club in London. Media are invited; details to follow.

In 2001, Reed, today a senior member of the London sports media, pitched for the London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League. A disabled athlete, Reed accomplished this goal at age 39. Despite numerous skeletal deformities and related challenges, Reed is a golf teaching professional and brand ambassador with multiple golf industry members. Read his story here.

Chelsea Zavitz, 20, of St. Thomas, Ont. was the 2016 Jeffrey Reed Courage Award winner. Chelsea is an all-around athlete, and a member of the Windsor Lancers and FC London women’s soccer squads, who showed incredible courage in her fight back from a serious concussion on the soccer pitch.

Ali’s story is both heartbreaking, and inspiring. It’s a story which echoes everything the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award encourages athletes to do: Dream Big & Never Stop Dreaming; Work With Mentors & Mentor Others; Learn From Failure; Give 100% At All Times; and Never Quit.

In 2013, Ali and her sister, Kate, were involved in a tragic automobile accident, just months before Ali would begin studies at Fanshawe College of Applied Arts & Technology. Kate had life-threatening injuries, and still fights every day to improve her walking and speech. Ali walked away from the accident with only scratches, but the pain was much deeper: she began her college career “full of regret, anger and the worst heartbreak I have ever encountered.”

In addition, Ali lives with ADHD and dyslexia, which have made learning difficult for this outstanding athlete. She studied in the Developmental Services Worker program at Fanshawe College, and concurrently during her freshman studies made the Falcons women’s basketball team, coached by former Falcons Bill and Theresa Carriere. Their daughter, Nicole, a former Falcon, is now an assistant coach.

“I tried out for basketball, and found my passion and my drive,” said Ali, who, as a rookie with the Falcons, was a Top 5 OCAA scorer during her freshman semester, and finished the year as an OCAA First Team All-Star, plus was named to the OCAA All-Rookie Team. Said Ali, “Although I struggled every day with dealing with my sister’s recovery, I found myself supported by my coaching staff and the veterans on my basketball team. People say your team is your family, and they couldn’t be more right.”

In her sophomore year, Ali decided to switch to a program which she felt better suited her personality. With a fresh start in the Recreation and Leisure Services program, and with tutoring to help her reach her potential, Ali upped her GPA from 2.0 to 2.9. In her third year, Ali faced another challenge while battling a continuous ankle injury, but while on the bench she cheered on her teammates. Through physiotherapy and determination, she returned to help the Falcons capture OCAA bronze. Said Ali, “I learned that when a group of people come together with a common goal, anything is possible.”

The Falcons repeated as OCAA bronze medalists this season, beating the Seneca Sting, 72-56. Ali was a team leader and scoring machine. She also found a new challenge and love in soccer. “I took a risk, stepped outside of my comfort zone and made the team as a goalkeeper, even though I had never played the position before,” said Ali, who helped the Falcons go undefeated during the regular season, and win OCAA bronze in late-March. Ali started all six games and allowed only two goals.

For the past few years, Ali has refereed with the London Board of Basketball Officials. She also fills the roles of referee and scorekeeper with Fanshawe Athletics intramurals; and she relished the role of mentor with the Falcons basketball program. “This year, I have challenged myself to be more of a leader for the rookies. I mentor them by telling them that no challenge is too difficult,” she said. “I believe I fit the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award because playing sports saved my life when I felt down, I was able to be brave with the help of people around me, and now I have grown into a successful student athlete.”

According to Nicole Carriere, “Between her car accident, learning disabilities and injuries, Ali has not had an easy route to success. However, she continues to inspire both coaches and teammates. Throughout the past four years, we have seen such amazing growth in Ali. Words that come to mind when I think of her are, strong, resilient, confident, dedicated and outgoing.”

“When I established the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award, I had amazing athletes like Ali Vlasman in mind,” said Reed. “She has faced personal disaster, struggled through guilt, grief and heartache, yet she found strength through sports and the support of others, and eventually became a mentor. LondonOntarioSports.com is extremely proud of Ali, and we are thrilled to honour her with this award.”

Watch LondonOntarioSports.com for information on tickets for the 2nd Annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award banquet at Highland Country Club, Friday, June 9, 2017. For more information, contact Elizabeth Reed elizabeth@londonontariosports.com.

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About The Jeffrey Reed Courage Award
Est. in 2016, the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award recognizes a Southwestern Ontario athlete for his or her courage on and off the playing field. Each athlete must nominate themselves, and write a 1,000-word essay including information on their challenges, how they tackled them, how they achieved their goals, and how they inspired others. LondonOntarioSports.com awards the winner with $1,000 plus a plaque at an annual luncheon ceremony. In 2001, Jeffrey Reed, a long-time member of the London sports media, pitched for the London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League. A disabled athlete, Reed accomplished this goal at age 39. Through his inspirational story and annual award, Reed now gives area athletes an opportunity to inspire others with their own stories. Reed’s amazing journey, Diamond Dream, is online here at http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com/speaking.htm.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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