Caroline Ehrhardt took a leap of faith coming to Western in 2010, and the track and field athlete has been soaring ever since.
She originally planned to attend an American university on a full scholarship, but when the varsity coach quit, she knew the school was no longer the best choice for her. Yet, Caroline had no plan-B.
A few days later, Caroline met Vickie Croley, track and field head coach at Western. “Vickie said she could help me and a few weeks later I was at Western buying textbooks,” says the health sciences student, who specializes in health promotion.
Caroline’s first year at Western was only possible through the donor-funded Athletic Financial Awards she received. Additional awards, including the Gordon Risk Athletic Award and the Larry Shaw Scholarships for student-athletes, have allowed her to continue her studies at Western.
“I went from being on a full-ride scholarship that included my tuition, housing and food to suddenly not having anything,” says Caroline, the youngest of three children from the small northern Ontario town of Espanola. “Without donor support, I’m not sure how I would have done it. It’s hard enough managing academics and athletics. I couldn’t imagine having to throw a part-time job into the mix.”
Caroline is grateful for what she has received from Western’s donors, alumni and parents. “To know there’s someone out there who I don’t even know and who is playing a part in my quest for excellence, that’s truly motivating,” she says.
This past year, Caroline captured her fourth consecutive national gold medal in triple jump at the Canadian Track and Field Championships. She also successfully defended her Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) triple jump title, and her MVP award for women’s field events from Ontario University Athletics (OUA).
In 2013-14, Caroline earned the OUA gold in long jump and triple jump, and bronze in the 4x200m relay team.
“It took some time but I soon realized that everything happened the way it did for a reason,” says Caroline, who says Vickie has been like a mom to the team. “I love this school and I love my team, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I take great pride in representing Western every time I step on the track.”
This past summer, Caroline tapped into her love for writing by taking on a communications job with Londonmoms.ca and is looking forward to her final year of competing for Western. After that? “I’m continuing to train with Vickie,” she adds, “and I want to take a serious shot at making the 2016 or 2020 Olympic team.”
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