Breakthrough Winner 2011

CAAWS recognizes Sheila Robertson’s contributions to girls and women

OTTAWA, April 16, 2012 – Respected author Sheila Hurtig Robertson of Ottawa ON is the recipient of the 2011 CAAWS Marion Lay “Herstorical” Breakthrough Award. The award is presented by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) to an individual, group or organization whose distinct contribution has had a long-term (10 years or more) and significant influence, and has broken down barriers to equal participation for girls and women in sport and physical activity.

“Sheila has given a voice to so many women in sport stories over the years,” said CAAWS Executive Director Karin Lofstrom (Ottawa ON). “Her ability to profile the lives of women coaches, officials, athletes and leaders with such passion is a remarkable gift. Her writing continues to highlight the successes and challenges of women leaders from all levels of sport both on and off the field.”

Working as a writer and editor for over 35 years, Sheila has long taken an interest in women’s sports and coaching. In 1994, Sheila became the founding editor of the Canadian Professional Coaches Association’s quarterly magazine Coaches Report; she was also its lead writer until 2005. During that same time, Sheila was presented with the opportunity to edit a new magazine published by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC). Originating from the CAC’s Women in Coaching program, the purpose of Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching was to highlight the problems and realities facing women coaches in Canada, while also offering practical and proactive suggestions and solutions to break down the gender barriers. Sheila’s deep personal interest in women in sports, based on her own experiences as a woman in high performance sport, made the opportunity for her to lead the publication particularly meaningful. Under her guidance, the magazine celebrated the achievements and contributions of Canadian female coaches, and used their stories to inform and inspire action.

As CAAWS’ Communication Consultant for many years, Sheila has compiled information, written articles, and edited several resources for the organization including The Life and Times of CAAWS: A History of CAAWS, Making the Most of Your Opportunities: A Media Guide for Athletes and their Coaches, and the quarterly publication Action Bulletin. Over the years, many women were recognized for the efforts and contributions at the Canadian Sport Awards as a result of her well-written nominations on behalf of CAAWS. In 2010, Sheila edited the book Taking the Lead: Strategies and Solutions from Female Coaches, a joint initiative between the Coaching Association of Canada and the University of Alberta Press. Recognizing the need to make the sport community more welcoming, supportive and respective of female coaches, CAAWS proudly supported the publication. The book which features 11 provocative and insightful articles is an extensive and frank exploration by leaders in women’s coaching of the values women bring to the profession.

In 1995, she was the recipient of the Frank Ratcliffe Memorial Award for communications, and was a finalist for it once again in 2000. In 2005, Coaches of Canada established the Sheila Robertson Award, which annually recognizes a national sport or multisport organization that demonstrates a consistent approach in valuing and recognizing the role of the coach within the organization, the media and the public. This award was created to recognize all of her work in supporting coaches.

Sheila recently launched the publication of her new book Shattered Hopes at the 2012 Olympic Swimming Trials in Montreal. She was presented with her award at the 2012 CAC National Women’s Coach Workshop this past weekend in Jackson’s Point ON.