Friday night, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s rugby team will take on the StFX X-Women, in a rematch of the 2016 U SPORTS national championship game. This highly anticipated exhibition game will also mark the first edition of the uOttawa Rowan’s Legacy Match, focused on raising awareness and funds for the advancement the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes at every level, in honour of Rowan Stringer.
In May of 2013, 17-year-old Ottawa high school student Rowan Stringer lost her life to Second Impact Syndrome due to multiple concussions suffered within a short period of time. Her story shook the Ottawa community and triggered a wide-spread change in concussion protocols and mindsets towards head injuries, including the passing of Rowan’s Law. Proceeds from Friday evening will be donated to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Many current Gee-Gees players knew Rowan from her days with Barrhaven Scottish Rugby Club. Rowan was also set to attend uOttawa in 2013 before she passed away. The Gee-Gees have honoured Rowan in past seasons but now have established the Rowan’s Legacy Match to ensure that their message is clear.
“There is nothing more important than player welfare and Rowan Stringer embodies that in the community,” says Gee-Gees head coach Jen Boyd, who was also named Rugby Canada’s Coach of the Year for 2016. “Knowing that she was enrolled here at the University of Ottawa and could have possibly been a student-athlete of mine makes it hit close to home. It’s great that the university has helped us put on an event like this that recognizes Rowan’s impact on rugby in the area and throughout the province.”
In addition to the proceeds to be raised for the Concussion Legacy Foundation, uOttawa Associate Vice-President of Student Services Michel Guilbeault will announce the creation of the Rowan Stringer Bursary at uOttawa. Funded by the uOttawa Employee Giving Campaign, the Rowan Stringer Bursary will be awarded each year to a student-athlete who exemplifies what it means to be a teammate on and off the field of play, with a focus on ensuring the health and safety all Gee-Gees.
Rowan’s Law, the legislation in Ontario to provide tools for players, parents, coaches and trainers to diagnose and better respond to concussions was passed in July, 2016, spearheaded by a group of passionate individuals including M.P.P. Lisa Macleod and Rowan’s parents, Gordon and Kathleen. Gordon and Kathleen will be in attendance on Friday night.
More information about Rowan’s Law can be found at www.rowanslaw.ca