Hamilton’s Women of Inspiration in sport | TheSpec.com – Hamilton Spectator

Sarah Nurse of Team Canada is congratulated by Erin Ambrose and Jocelyne Larocque after scoring a goal against Team Finland at the Beijing Olympics in February.

Sarah Nurse, Mary DePaoli honoured by major advocacy group for female sport, Steve Milton writes.

By Steve MiltonSpectator Columnist

Tue., May 3, 20224 min. read

Achieve, lead and inspire. Words to live by, but you don’t need to tell that to Sarah Nurse or Mary DePaoli. It’d be like reminding them they should breathe.

On Wednesday night, the Toronto chapter of a major international advocacy organization for females in sport, business and entertainment will present its inaugural Women of Inspiration awards.

And both women to be honoured by Women in Sports and Events are from Hamilton: Nurse, and DePaoli.

“It’s the first time we will be paying tribute to women we call inspirational,” says veteran Sportsnet broadcaster Christine Simpson, a groundbreaker in sport and business herself, an original member when WISE opened a Toronto chapter in 2019 and now on the organization’s board of directors.

Sarah Nurse with one of her Tim Hortons Hockey Barbie dolls in November 2020.

“Mary and Sarah are just so accomplished in so many ways.”

Nurse returned from February’s Beijing Olympics with a hockey gold medal and two personal Games scoring records and is a champion for numerous social causes. Among other duties, DePaoli, RBC’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, oversees RBC’s multimillion dollar stake in two major PGA Tour events, including next month’s Canadian Open, sponsorship of a diverse web of golfers and golf programs, and several development and encouragement platforms for athletes, both female and male.

DePaoli serves also on the board of the Toronto chapter of WISE, the only Canadian branch of the organization which has chapters in 23 American cities and is headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1993, WISE is a leading resource for females in the sports and events businesses, sponsoring recognition awards, mentorship programs and numerous professional development forums. Its self-described mandates include “empowering women across North America with the professional, network tools and advocacy to excel.”

Mary DePaoli with (left) Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in 2021.

Simpson has been a highly-visible presence at Sportsnet, mostly in hockey, since the national all-sports network’s debut in 1998, with the exception of three years when she covered hockey for ESPN, ABC, Versus, the NHL Network, and at Molson Canadian Hockey House.

Before a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s boutique Shangri-La Hotel Wednesday night, she’ll conduct a “fireside chat” with Nurse and DePaoli in WISE’s first in-person event since the pandemic struck in 2020.

“I have known Mary for years and have so much respect for her and I’m so proud to call her a friend,” says Simpson, who has been the marketing manager of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first in-arena host, and worked for CTV Sports before it morphed into Sportsnet.

“It’s awe-inspiring to see what she’s accomplished and everything that falls under her at RBC: The Canadian Open; the Heritage Open; all the golfers they sponsor; the programs for inclusivity and accessibility in golf and sport; RBC’s Training Ground; TIFF and the women-in-film series giving more profile to under-represented women in film; the RBCxMusic platform. Her role encompasses so many things, let alone being chair of the board of the RBC Foundation.

“I feel banking is about as male-dominated as you can get and for her to have risen to the top? I can only imagine the times she is one of the few if not only the woman around the table in a board room,” says Simpson. “People talk of Mary not only having a vision but being able to communicate that vision. You buy in because it’s the right thing to do. To have a person with that kind of humanity at any level … well, we shouldn’t be surprised but we are.”

DePaoli ran track and field at St Thomas More with Nurse’s father, Roger, her uncle Richard and her aunt Raquel. Sarah is a member of RBC Training Ground and her grandmother worked at RBC. Nurse has become one of the international faces of women’s hockey and Simpson has worked with her on various broadcast panels.

Mary DePaoli, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for RBC.

“You look at all Sarah has accomplished and she’s only 27 years old, so it’s kind of mind-boggling. She’s the first Black gold Olympic medallist in hockey. Not only did she set the Olympic record for most points and assists, the 13 assists is an Olympic record for men and women,” Simpson told The Spectator.

“To dominate on the ice is something to celebrate in itself. What I love is all she’s done off the ice, working with the NHL, everything she’s doing for the PWHPA (Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association), her social media presence, working on inclusion, her interest in fashion, and she does it with such poise. When you have a Barbie Doll made of you, that’s when you’re a rock star. What corporation doesn’t want to align themselves with someone of her calibre?

“Sarah Nurse is obviously the next generation where young girls can look up to them and say, ‘Wow, look at what I can accomplish in life.’ The game of hockey is lucky to have her in it.”