WOLFVILLE - Former Acadia soccer coach and Sport Hall of Fame member Laura Sanders has been named honorary chairwoman for the CIS women’s soccer championships at Acadia University Nov. 10 to 13.
A New Brunswick native, Sanders arrived at Acadia in 1984 to coach women’s varsity basketball and soccer. She would continue to coach both basketball and soccer at Acadia for 20 seasons and although her basketball teams were competitive, her greatest success would come on the soccer pitch.
The Axettes were perennially among the best teams in Canada during the 1980s and 90s, with Acadia winning five consecutive conference titles, from 1987 to 1991, another one in 1996, and a national title in 1990 that stands as Acadia’s first CIAU women’s soccer crown. Sanders was named CIAU coach-of-the-year in 1990 and was AUAA coach-of-the-year six times.
“Laura Sanders instilled in her teams a strong sense of hard work and dedication that obviously translated into tremendous success on the soccer pitch,” says Kevin Dickie, director of athletics at Acadia. “Her commitment to developing young talent here at Acadia and in the greater community speaks volumes, and her remarkable achievements at the conference and national levels illustrate a passion for the game that, in my opinion, is unparalleled. She is also an outstanding and inspirational example of what our program here at Acadia is all about, and I’m delighted that she has been named honorary chairperson for this year’s CIS women’s soccer national championship at Acadia.”
Dara (Moore) Ramirez, originally from Hantsport, N.S., played on the CIAU championship team in 1990. Ramirez was once a head coach for the Dalhousie Tigers before joining Acadia as a head coach.
“One of the qualities that I think is found in most successful coaches is that they instill this incredible belief in yourself. There is no question that Laura made us believe that anything was possible and that we could beat anyone on any given day with a tremendous worth ethic, determination and a competitive attitude,” noted Ramirez when asked about Laura’s special qualities as a coach then of the 1990 team. “Every player also knew that there was no one above the team - she was able to create a type of chemistry in the group whereby players played for their teammates, her and then themselves. It was very, very special.”
When asked about her experience during the 1990 season as a young Axette, she had fond memories. “The 1990 championship group was very special. Many players in the group had three-four years of having competed in the national championship and fallen short. That feeling was never lost. At this point in the careers of the players, we had all bought into the intensity of the program and the desire to achieve what we hadn't been able to. So, the experience of the group, some amazing recruits, and Laura's incredible way to motivate us to extend our limits and challenge ourselves were the keys to the success of the group.”
Acadia last hosted the CIS women’s soccer championship in 2000 and did so prior in 1989, winning bronze.