The University of Victoria joined with Westshore RFC and Velox Valhallians Rugby Football to announce an endowment for women’s rugby at the CIS championship in early November.
The endowment will help fund the Marlene Donaldson Vikes Women’s Rugby Award, named after the Rugby Canada alumnae and current Westshore RFC youth and junior programs director.
“Marlene is a pioneer in women’s rugby and is someone who has contributed so much at both the junior and senior levels,” said Vikes men’s rugby alumnus and donor Michael Holmes. “As a former Vike, I’m proud to see the direction that this program is headed and hope that the support generated by this endowment can help keep the momentum going well into the future.”
Donaldson, a member of the University of Toronto’s Sports Hall of Fame where she played rugby as an undergraduate, made her debut as a tight-head prop with Canada’s XVs team in September 2000 against England and finished her playing career with a total of 18 caps.
The award in her name was made possible by the vision and generous support of Holmes and fellow Vikes men’s rugby alumnus Mark Wyatt, as well as by a contribution from the Velox Valhallians Fund, the Canadian Rugby Foundation and gifts from members of the Westshore Valkyries RFC.
A minimum of two awards will be presented annually to entering or continuing undergraduate women athletes who currently play, or have indicated their agreement to play, for Westshore Valkyries RFC. Award recipients will be selected on the basis of work ethic, volunteer efforts in the community and commitment and performance criteria set by the Director of Athletics and Recreation in consultation with the Varsity Head Coach and the Manager of Athletics.
“Vikes Athletics and Recreation appreciates the spirit and contribution from the Westshore Valkyries RFC towards the establishment of the Marlene Donaldson Award,” said Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation Clint Hamilton. “The vision and energy of the club, along with that of esteemed UVic alumni Mike Holmes and Mark Wyatt, are important and align completely with our goal of continuing to build and grow our women’s rugby program.
“This is another tremendous example of how our committed Vikes alumnae continue to make a difference for future Vikes and help ensure that UVic remains at the forefront of University Sport in Canada.”