Rowing coach Debra Neufeld wins two major awards

Local rowing coach Debra Neufeld was recently awarded not one, but two, prestigious awards for women in sports.

Neufeld said, “I did apply for these awards because I thought the money would be useful to further my coaching education, but I though they were both a long shot.”

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On Mar. 15, Neufeld was the sole recipient of the Bobbie Steen Legacy Foundation Award. The award was established by the ProMotion Plus organization to honour founding member Bobbie Steen, and the organization is still only one of three in Canada with the purpose of supporting women and girls in sports, according to the Promotion Plus website.

Neufeld will be using the funds from the award to further her education and training as a rowing coach. She has been coaching for more than seven years and was a professional rower for three years before deciding to become a coach. In a press release, the ProMotion organization stated, “the Bobbie Steen Legacy Foundation Award was created to recognize an emerging leader who is making a difference for the advancement of girls and women in the field of physical activity, sport and recreation in BC. Debra Neufeld is a very worthy recipient and role model for other young women in B.C.”

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) named Neufeld one of 10 recipients of the 2018 WISE fund in February. According to the CAAWS website, “the WISE Fund is awarded annually in the form of 10 grants valued at $1,000 each to support professional development or programming.”

This year, the fund received 200 applications, which it noted as a record number. Again, Neufeld will be using the funds to further her coaching and leadership skills.

Neufeld has single-handedly brought the sport of rowing to Lillooet. She has established and funded the club through the sourcing of support money from various organizations; has obtained equipment such as the boats, oars, life jackets and even rowing machines to support her winter training initiative.

Neufeld told the News, “I feel a little overwhelmed to have actually won these and to have won both. It is very exciting to see all of the hard work be noticed by outside organizations; it’s not why I started doing this, as I coach because I enjoy it.”

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