Just when I thought the ending to my time at Western couldn't have happened more perfectly, it did. A few weeks ago I attended my final Western Athletic Gala knowing I was a finalist for one of the two major awards - either the Western athlete of the year, or the F.W.P. Jones trophy which recognizes athletes who have had outstanding careers at Western (and thus usually goes to a graduating athlete). I had been nominated for Western athlete of the year the previous two years, but the award eluded me. To me, it was always just extremely humbling to even be a finalist as I was fully aware of the incredible athletes that graced our campus. This year was no different - I was honored to be nominated and knew that I would be facing some tough competition.
I was filled with excitement going into the gala as I knew it was my last official experience as a Western Mustang. I joked around with my friends and told them that I was going all out for the night and treating it like prom. I bought a new dress, new shoes, taught myself how to apply makeup, and paid an unreasonable amount of money to have my hair done. It's not often that I treat myself in that way, and it felt great. I wanted to feel like a princess and indeed, that's exactly how I felt.
My first high of the night was recieving the prestigious Purple Blanket. These blankets are presented to athletes who "achieved superior distinction at the Provincial/National level of competition as representatives of Western." Knowing that 10 blankets are handed out each year, right before the beginning of their presentation I leaned over to my friend and whispered, "hey, wouldn't that be unfortunate to be the very first blanket recipient called and have to stand on stage for 15 minutes holding it while everyone else gets theirs?" (rumour has it that they are rather heavy). Apparently the Universe just couldn't help itself after that remark, as my name was the first one called. There was nothing unfortunate about the experience, as my heart swelled with pride as I stood on the stage listening to the profiles of the other recipients, realizing what a true honor it was to be among them.
Following the purple blanket ceremony, we were ushered off the stage. It was time for the final award of the night - the F.W.P. Jones trophy. This overwhelming feeling of peace came over me as we waited to hear the winner, and when my name came up on the screen, I felt like my heart exploded and, well, to be blunt, like I was going to throw up. I simply couldn't believe it. The biggest smile came across my face. I felt like I floated up the stairs and across the stage - it was like an out of body experience. I just told myself the same thing over and over again, "do not cry, do NOT cry.... don't you dare cry, damnit". Luckily, I was able to keep it together (for once) and enjoy the moment without being concerned about the massive amount of makeup I was wearing being smudged across my face! The best part of that moment was being embraced by my coaches afterwards. I was still shaking from the excitement - we did it. I knew, undoubtedly, that it had been a team effort. I was so happy to recieve the award because more than anything else, it was a testament to their hard work, dedication and patience with me over the years.
I'm still at a loss for words, and just as I was starting to come down from the incredibly emotional state I was in after CIS, I'm right back to the blubbery state I was in. If I so much as look at a picture or watch a video from that evening I get teary eyed, because I can't believe how blessed I am. Yes, I have worked hard to achieve what I have - but how can I not feel LUCKY? I am already able to do what I love every day - that alone is more than I could ever ask for. But to be recognized and honored for simply doing what I enjoy.. that to me is crazy. The past two months have definitely been a dream come true.
So, what's next? As I wrap up this chapter of my life, a new one begins. I'm in the home stretch of my academic career as I am preparing to write my final exams. I will then be kicking off my outdoor season and starting my pursuit to get onto Team Canada for the Pan Am Games in July. I can't wait!
That's all for now, as I really should be studying. Be sure to check out my videos section for some videos from the Athletic Gala.