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Determination, courage, and much more

Victoria Haworth learned she was named a winner of the Dalhousie University Tigers’ President’s Award a couple of days before it was announced on April 3, 2020.

Her volleyball coach Rick Scott and the Tigers were aware Victoria’s father was in poor health. They told Victoria of her win early so she could share the news with her father. Brad Haworth passed away on April 2 following his battle with cancer.

“Winning the honour boosted me up some with what was going on in my life,” Victoria said. “It was a nice thing to share with my father before he passed away. I know he was definitely proud of me.”

Victoria’s accomplishments

The President’s Award, awarded last season to both Victoria and track athlete Matthew Coolen, is given annually to “an individual who best combines athletics, academics, leadership and fair play,” according to the Dal Tigers website.

Victoria, from the Halifax suburb of Waverley, won the award while completing her fifth year as a combined medical sciences and engineering student. Victoria, now in year six, is the first Dal student to pursue a combined degree in those two areas.

Her volleyball season ended with her fifth Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championship and a spot on the U Sports All-Canadian second team.

Victoria was also recognized for her volunteerism, including her work as the Special Tigers Sports program’s co-chair. Her sister, Rebecca Haworth, created the program in 2012. Victoria began with the program in high school, before even her first Dal class or volleyball game.

Rebecca, a former Tigers high jumper, is also a President’s Award winner, having won in 2012 and 2013.

Haworth demonstrates her winning form during a game at Dalhousie. (Photo by Trevor MacMillan)

“There were moments where I decided I wanted to be a student first and athlete second. Plus, I really wanted to give back to the community that raised and groomed me. Many people gave a lot to get me where I am, and I wanted to be able to do that for someone else,” Victoria said. She also volunteered for Relay for Life (a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society), Ronald McDonald House Charities and other volunteer organizations. Additionally, Victoria coaches volleyball at Citadel High School.

Scott knew about Victoria’s father’s diagnosis, which happened the summer before her fifth year. He watched as Victoria excelled through the year while coping with her father’s health. Scott was in awe.

“She was so strong throughout the entire year, between being with her dad, doing well in school and being a great player and leader on the team,” Scott said. “Her accomplishments in those areas and community service is impressive for any student athlete. To couple that in her last year with the stresses and challenges with her dad is nothing short of impressive.”

Family support

Rebecca said she is proud of her younger sister for winning the President’s Award, but by no means is surprised.

“It’s great to see how much Tori [Victoria] has been able to achieve over the years. It will be interesting to see where she goes with her combined degree and volunteer work,” Rebecca said.

A longtime volunteer herself, Rebecca said her parents were instrumental in encouraging her, Victoria and their older sister Sarah in achieving their goals. Their father volunteered as a coach when they played sports at young ages.

“He made sure we always tried our best to achieve what we pursued. He was certainly proud of us and what we accomplished, especially Tori this past year,” Rebecca said.

“I’m honestly not sure if Mom or Dad missed any of my games,” Victoria said of her parents’ passion for watching her play volleyball, one of many things they supported her in. “Even games away from Dal, nearly every game in Atlantic Canada, they were there.”

After her father’s cancer diagnosis, Victoria began volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society. One of her team’s games last year served as a fundraiser game for the Cancer Society. This was part of the Tigers’ wider Serve for the Cure initiative. Victoria led this initiative, which raised more than $6,500 for cancer research over the year.

When the team came together to raise money through Serve for the Cure, Victoria felt grateful knowing she had people like her teammates, coaches and other volunteers she looked up to there with her.

“Our team raising money for the Cancer Society through Serve for the Cure was special,” Victoria said. “Looking back, I’m reminded of those people who helped me, and it’s really special to think I was possibly that person for someone else. I was proud to be that person this past year.”

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