The Karina LeBlanc Foundation issued its initial scholarships to three female graduates from Maple Ridge.
LeBlanc is a former goalkeeper with the Canadian women’s Olympic soccer team. She started the foundation last year to help young local women reach their athletic goals.
The scholarships are worth $2,000 each.
“The thing you should always be asking yourself [is], what’s next? This is not the end,” Deanna Cranna, a foundation director and childhood friend of LeBlanc, said in awarding the scholarships Thursday.
LeBlanc could not be present as she’s working as an announcer for Fox Sports at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
This is the first year of the scholarships.
The recipients: Avery Johnson, Sabrina Jones and Cassie McLeod.
Johnson, 17, grew up with a family involved in lacrosse. Even though that didn’t spark her interest at first, after seeing what a positive impact it had on her family, she decided to get involved.
After a few years of playing, she began teaching her younger sister, who has “significant special needs.”
The coaching part was a learning process for her, and pushed her out of her comfort zone.
“It taught me how to handle different kind of styles of learning and how to take that on,” said Johnson, Garibaldi secondary graduate.
Jones, who 18 and attended Samuel Robert Technical, has played school and community sports throughout her life – from soccer, to basketball, track and field and figure skating.
She is heading to the University of Calgary next year and is attending the Dinos’ women’s soccer team training camp in August in hopes of earning a spot.
“We’ll see where it takes me, but I’m super excited,” she said of going to school.
McLeod, 17, has been playing softball since she was three years old, this being her 14th season. She doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
The past two years, she’s pushed herself and began playing for a travel team, Synergy Gold.
“I’ve worked really hard to get where I’m at and I’m really proud of what I’ve done,” added McLeod, a Maple Ridge secondary graduate.
All three recipients said they are honoured to have been chosen for the scholarships.