Sarah Hillworth: the persevering Panda

Throughout our lives we encounter countless people. Some simply pass by without notice while others leave a lasting impact. For so many people, both in Edmonton and elsewhere, Sarah Hilworth is one of those latter individuals. Regardless of whether you hear Sarah’s story second-hand or have the opportunity to meet her in person, you can’t help but be deeply inspired. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., Sarah came to Edmonton in 2008 to play on scholarship for the University of Alberta Pandas hockey team while pursuing an undergraduate degree in Arts, Recreation, Sport and Tourism. Because of her contributions bothon and off the ice, she was elected by her teammates and coaching staff as assistant captain during her junior year. Now in her fifth year, she proudly wears the captain letter on her jersey. Combining a strong work ethic, exceptional talent, inspirational selflessness and genuine personality Sarah is a natural leader who is respected and admired by everyone she meets.

In April of 2011, Sarah’s mother Denice Hilworth lost her three-year-long battle with ovarian cancer. Sarah responded to this with incredible strength, by spreading awareness and raising money to help find a cure for this detrimental disease. The following June she completed a two-day bike ride fundraising a total of $13,000 for the cause. On top of this, with the help of her team, the captain organized a fundraiser game this past February in honour of her mother. The event was a huge success, not only raising awareness on campus and throughout the city but also $4,000 in support of ovarian cancer research.

Early in the 2012-2013 season Sarah suffered a severe knee injury during a hockey game against the University of Saskatchewan. She fractured her patella attempting to block a slapshot from the opponent’s defence. All that was left of her once so promising final year was an immediate emergency surgery and a season of strenuous physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Always one to find the silver lining, Sarah remained a key member of the team. Though unable to contribute on the ice she continued to support the team every way she could throughout the entire season. Taking game statistics, traveling significant distances to cheer on the team and providing insightful advice are but a few ways in which she contributed.

As a student athlete with the challenge of balancing academics and athletics Sarah, somehow still has time to work a part time job with Alberta Triathlon as well as volunteer much of her time making the community of Edmonton a better place. Over the past few years she has helped coach one of the city’s Special Olympics ball hockey programs. She has also participated in numerous developmental camps and practices for young and upcoming female hockey players. Now hoping to get her year back, Sarah continues to train and work relentlessly at rehabilitating her knee for the 2013-2014 hockey season. Sarah’s accomplishments in the face of adversity and her significant contributions to not only her team but the community as a whole, make her a well deserving recipient of the Wanderer online Top 100 Most Influential Undergraduate Students of 2012!

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