Brock University women’s rugby player Katelyn Heyens has earned national recognition for her community service.
On Wednesday, Oct. 31, U SPORTS presented Heyens with the Student-Athlete Community Service Award during the annual women’s rugby All-Canadian gala in Wolfville, N.S.
“I am honoured to receive this award and am incredibly humbled by it,” said Heyens. “However, this was a team effort. I would not be here if it wasn’t for the support from all the amazing people in my life.
“I am truly thankful for all the people who have encouraged me to get involved, and for all those who have helped me grow as an athlete and individual over that past few years.”
Last month, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) also recognized Heyens’ community work with the the Russell Division Community Service Award.
To say Heyens is greatly involved in the school and community would be an understatement. The Eduction student has donated her time in many ways such as volunteering with the CIBC Run for the Cure, the Niagara Superhero Run, SNAP and IMPACT; leading Fit Break at the OPHEA Conference and at first-year orientation; and serving as motionball co-ordinator in 2018. She also took part in the Brock women’s rugby Rookie-Vet Mentorship program for three years and Brock University Athletic Council for four.
Heyens said volunteering has been part of her life since she was young, when her parents encouraged her to get involved and help others whenever she could.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the help and support of others, so in return I want to do all I can to help others reach their goals,” she said. “Through volunteering, I’ve been able to meet some amazing people and gain some valuable experience. Through meeting new people and hearing their stories, it really adds a new perspective to life. By offering even a little bit of your time to help, it can make an incredible impact in the lives of others. Helping others and giving back is something that I am passionate about and is something I will continue to do in the future.”
Heyens is selfless, hard-working and has done a great deal to spread her passion for teaching and helping others lead a healthy lifestyle, said Brock women’s rugby head coach Stefanie Pavlovich.
“She generously donates her time to help others and takes pride in being able to do so,” she said. “Katelyn is always willing to help others in need. Last year, she was the recipient of the Dallas Beaton Award at the Brock Athletic Banquet, which goes to a Brock athlete that has truly left an impact on the Brock community.
Heyens didn’t pick up the sport of rugby until after her first year at Brock University. Growing up in La Salette of Norfolk County, she chose to play soccer over rugby because they had similar seasons.
A senior fullback, Heyens is one of the Badgers’ captains and helped her team to a second consecutive 4-0 regular season record and a playoff run that saw Brock finish fourth in the province. She is also a three-time OUA all-star.
“Rugby has become a significant part of my life in the last four years. It has challenged me both as an athlete and as an individual,” said Heyens. “This sport has taught me resiliency, teamwork, time management and the importance of hard work. But ultimately, rugby has allowed me to meet so many incredible people, many of whom will be lifelong friends. Our team is like a family. We support each other both on and off the field, and we constantly push each other to strive for greatness. I couldn’t imagine my life now without this sport and all the amazing people I have met.”