Wood Honored For Effort On And Off The Track

Kaleigh Wood, a senior on UVMs womens cross country and track & field teams, received the Outstanding Athlete Award from the UVM Women’s Center on Monday night in the David Center. Wood was honored at the center’s annual awards banquet. The Womens Center hosts its award banquet every year to recognize the contributions and activism of women on the UVM campus. The center choose one female recipient for the Outstanding Athlete Award every March who has made significant achievements in service to the community as well as athletics and academics.

Part of Woods achievement stemmed from her effort to adopt the nationwide You Can Play Project on campus this year. According to its mission statement, You Can Play is dedicated to creating an environment of equality, respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation. It works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete and be judged only by what they contribute to their sport or team’s success. The project is designed to give all athletes a fair opportunity to compete and be judged fairly. America East announced an unprecedented partnership with You Can Play in December as the project was adopted at the conference level.

Wood competed in four events this season. She ran her season-best time of 19:35 at the UNH pre-conference meet to rank 14th on the team. The Cynic sat down with Kaleigh Wood to ask about her accomplishments at UVM.
Q- How does it feel to have won the UVM Women’s Center’s Outstanding Athlete Award?

– If feels great to win this award from the UVM Women’s Center. I’m really appreciative to Christine Dolan and Cathy Rahill for nominating me. It was really nice to have all the work I was doing recognized. So many people have supported me throughout my years at UVM and it is a great feeling knowing that other people think my work is making a change on UVM’s campus.

Q- How does it feel to be in your last season?

It was so bittersweet to be done with something that I have done for so many years, but it is nice to have time to devote to other activities and projects I am involved in on campus.

Q- What were your goals for the season?

My goals for my last season were to stay healthy and avoid injuries. Running is one of those sports where you really have to listen to your body and make sure you are taking care of yourself to avoid injuries. I spent my junior year season not running due to injuries so this past cross country season I focused on training hard, listening to my body and it paid off. I didn’t suffer any major injuries and I was happy with my 5k times.

Q- What are your goals for the You Can Play Project?

One main goal for the You Can Play Project is helping out the student filmmaker, Gretchen Powers, as much as possible so the film is complete by the end of April. We want there to be representation from all the teams at UVM to express that UVM is committed to creating an inclusive environment so that LGBTQ athletes feel safe and not judged by their sexual orientation but only their athletic ability. We just want this film to be fun while getting our message across. We really appreciate all the athletes taking time out of their busy schedules to participate and make this film happen. I hope this film displays all the work UVM is doing to make this a better place for LGBTQ student-athletes.

Q- What is your proudest accomplishment as an athlete?
– I think my proudest accomplishment as an athlete is just all the advocacy and education work I have done through the LGBTQA Center at UVM and athletics. It has been extremely exciting and rewarding being a part of projects like the You Can Play Project, leadership programs and service work sponsored by UVM Athletics. It’s also been rewarding to be invited to classes to speak and educate younger students about LGBTQ issues in sports in order to make athletics a more inclusive place. Honestly, I just like helping people be who they are and speaking up for what I think is right.