WELLAND – Niagara College associate director of Athletics and Recreation Michele O’Keefe was awarded the Leadership in Sport Award on September 20 at the Canadian Sport Awards in Ottawa. The country’s premier event for national sport achievement and leadership recognition, the 41st edition of the event took place for the first time since 2012.
The Leadership in Sport Award is a lifetime achievement award that recognizes the outstanding contribution of a sport leader or organization who exemplifies True Sport Values as demonstrated by ground breaking organizational leadership, innovating practices, influential communications, cutting edge sport marketing and/or positioning in the sport sector.
“To win this award is a tremendous honour, and a testament to all those that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my career,” said O’Keefe. “It is very humbling to have been nominated with such a tremendous group of individuals, especially fellow Welland native Sandra Gage.”
Other nominees for the award include Richard Crepin, John Furlong, and Sandra Gage. Crepin is the chair of the Gymnastic Canada board of directors. Furlong was the CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, and currently serves as the executive chair of Vancouver FC. Gage is the chief marketing officer of Soccer Canada.
After nearly two decades with Canada Basketball, O’Keefe returned to her hometown of Welland in July to assume her current role with Niagara College. However, the path she has forged has not gone unnoticed by her peers.
Aside from the successes experienced by Canada Basketball on the court in recent years, O’Keefe played a vital role in the development of basketball across the country. She was instrumental in laying a foundation for the continued growth of the sport in Canada.
Along with her work domestically, she is also one of the top female policy-makers in international sport. She is currently the FIBA Americas vice-president and lone female on the executive board, while also serving as one of five women on FIBA’s 20-member Central Board.
In her position at Niagara College, O’Keefe now plays a bigger role in the day-to-day development of student-athletes on campus. She sees a great opportunity for sport development in the Niagara region as a whole, and feels that the College can take a significant role in making that happen. O’Keefe also serves as a board member with the 2021 Canada Summer Games Host Society.