(August 27, 2004)
It hasn’t been an easy road for Nicole Watt.
Watt, the runner-up in the senior ladies event at the 2001 Bank of Montreal Canadian Championships, was recognized for her commitment to her sport and community by being named one of the five recipients of the 2004 Stacey Levitt Women and Sport Scholarship.
News of Watt’s recognition was announced by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity on Aug. 3.
The 19-year-old Melfort, Sask. native, who, in addition to her silver medal win in 2001, placed fourth in the senior ladies event at both the 2000 and 2002 national championships, suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Despite her battle with the illness, Watt overcame the challenge to experience success on the national figure skating scene and represent Canada at various international events.
The Stacey Levitt Women and Sport Scholarship is a $2,500 gift awarded each year in memory of Stacey Levitt by her family to a young woman, girls’ team or sport organization that exemplifies Levitt’s ideals and qualities, including participating in sport for the sheer camaraderie, commitment and teamwork.
Both a talented athlete and a top student, Levitt was killed in 1995 after being struck by a car while jogging.
Levitt’s parents, Cheryl and Ned Levitt, selected this year’s five recipients from over 500 applications. In addition to Watt, four other athletes were recognized, including Erin Carter, of Markham, Ont., Jennifer Gilliland, of Cold Lake, Alta., Janelle Smith, of Vernon, B.C., and Carly Whittaker, of Saskatoon. The scholarship will be divided equally among the recipients.
Watt, who began skating at the age of three, was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as an eight-year-old. The disease adds complexity to her training, as it affects her joints and can limit her mobility.
Since the age of 14, Watt has donated her time in her role as a volunteer spokesperson for the Canadian Arthritis Society, in which she speaks to many groups about her disease and how it has affected her both on and off the ice.
Currently preparing to enter her second year at the University of Saskatchewan, Watt is studying to become a doctor. Although the pain caused by the juvenile rheumatoid arthritis forced her to withdraw from both the 2003 and 2004 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships, Watt continues to skate and has the goal of competing at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.