— By Kristi Patton, June 30, 2020 —
Over the past year Laura Oliver has been learning about Grindstone and working tirelessly as a volunteer to raise awareness of the charity and in the role of raising funds at events held in Ontario last year.
“From the second that I learned about the Grindstone Award Foundation, I knew that I was meant to be a part of it,” said Oliver. “I’ve always felt compelled to help drive female hockey further. I want to take that passion and apply it across Canada through Grindstone.”
The board of directors is elated that Oliver has stepped into the President’s role as we all continue to navigate through this difficult year and the uncertainty it brings for hockey and for charities. Grindstone was particularly affected through a lack of donations this year due to many events being cancelled and the inability to host a signature fundraising event. The board knows it is more important than ever to raise awareness and fundraise to provide opportunities to young female hockey players who have a desire to play, but are unable to for financial reasons.
“Laura’s volunteer efforts with Grindstone have been greatly appreciated over this past year and she is the perfect person to lead Grindstone into the future. The board feels that her connections and passion for the game will help further Grindstone’s efforts to provide grants to young female players to allow them to play hockey and not worry about financial barriers,” said Dawn Widdifield, Grindstone board member who was sitting as acting President.
Oliver, who grew up in Ontario, played hockey primarily with the Flamborough Sabres and finished off her minor hockey career with the Hamilton Hawks. She currently works as a Systems Analyst at ArcelorMittal Dofasco and is the President of the Dofasco Women’s Hockey League.
She said a pivotal moment for her was at 12 years old when she watched the Canadian women’s national team win gold at the 2002 Olympics. Oliver said that it was then that she realized that women can play hockey at the highest level and that women could become professional hockey players if they were given the opportunity. It is something she wants to engrain in all young female hockey players.
“I’ve been lucky, in that I was always financially able to play hockey and my parents never had to worry about not being able to pay for the next season. I want all girls to be able to play hockey if they want to and not have to consider the financial implications. We need to remove those financial barriers and give them the opportunity to play,” said Oliver. “In a time when there is still a lack of resources and sponsorships for professional women’s hockey, it is so important for girls to remain excited about the future of the game and keep them active in it.”