(FREDERICTON, NB) Nicole LaFleur, a third year player with the UNB Varsity Reds women’s basketball team, is the first recipient of the LCol Erin Savage Scholarship.
LaFleur, in her third year of nursing studies at UNB, was presented with the award on Saturday night, in an emotional ceremony during half time of the Varsity Reds’ 61-44 win over the Lakehead University Thunderwolves.
“I was honoured,” said LaFleur. “I didn’t know Erin personally, but I have gotten to know her through the friends that she had and just her spirit of kindness and determination that I’ve heard about.”
Erin Savage played four seasons of basketball at UNB.
She was part of the team that captured the 1994-95 Atlantic University Sport championship.
After graduation, and medical school, she joined the Canadian Forces.
Savage became one of the most respected physicians in the military, serving on deployments to Haiti and Afghanistan. In 2007, she earned the Chief of Defence Staff Commendation.
In 2014, Erin Savage lost a battle with breast cancer. She was 39.
Members of Savage’s family, along with several former teammates were on hand for Saturday’s presentation.
“It means a lot that I could receive something like that, and hopefully carry on her legacy,” said LaFleur.
“Last night was very special,” said Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy. “To see many of the team back, and enjoying being back was great. But seeing Erin’s mom, Deb, with Nicole at centre court receiving the inaugural scholarship was the highlight of the evening.”
A grateful LaFleur feels there is much to be learned from the life that Savage lived.
“All those characteristics of hers, I hope I can carry out in my medical profession as well,” said LaFleur. “She was so looked up to in her career… on the court and off the court, so hopefully I can carry that on and make her proud.”
Coach Speedy believes LaFleur was the perfect choice as the recipient of the first Savage Scholarship.
“Erin was one in a million,” said Speedy. “Nicole is everything a person and a student athlete should be.”
The LCol Erin Savage Scholarship will be awarded annually to a member of the Varsity Reds women’s basketball team who has completed at least the first two years of an undergraduate degree program, is on the Dean’s List, and is involved in the community.