Eau Claire, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Lauren Lenz, who was the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Judy Kruckman Scholar Athlete Award winner in 2017, is the recipient of the 2019 Sandy Schumacher Courage Award.
The award will be presented at the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Hall of Fame banquet Friday, October 5. The banquet is open to the public and tickets, which are $25, can be obtained by contacting the UWEC Alumni Office at 715 836-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The awards program will begin at 6:30 p.m. preceded by a social at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m.
The Sandy Schumacher Courage Award was established in the fall of 2012 to honor the long-time Blugold coach, teacher and pioneer. Schumacher was an advocate for young girls and women in athletics and had a role in starting numerous athletics programs for women on the UWEC campus. She also conducted the first volleyball and basketball camps for girls.
Schumacher, who was inducted into the Blugold Hall of Fame in 1995, battled cancer for more than two decades but lost her battle in 2011. Even in the months prior to her death, Schumacher could be found on the Blugold sidelines, intently watching the action.
The Sandy Schumacher Courage Award is presented to a female Blugold student-athlete or alumna who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome the event.
Lenz, who is from St. Germain and attended Northland Pines High School, is currently working on her doctorate in Physical Therapy at California State University at Northridge. As a four-year Blugold soccer letterwinner, she faced and overcame several adversities her junior season of 2016-17. The day before school began that year, her father Jim had a heart attack. The Blugolds were playing at Carleton when her mother Kris called and said her father was being flown to Marshfield. He underwent surgery because of almost 90 percent blockage of several arteries.
Blugold coach Sean Yengo said that Lauren only missed one practice while driving back and forth to see her father and be there for her family. He said Lauren's teammates were very supportive as well. Instead of having MTXE (Mental Toughness Extra Effort) on her wrist as her teammates did, Lauren wrote DAD and played every game that season for him. Despite this stress, Lenz earned a spot on the WIAC All-Conference team that fall.
In his nomination of Lenz, Coach Yengo detailed the next challenge that she faced. When spring came that year, Lauren started to train for a half marathon that several of the soccer players were doing together. However, she began experiencing significant pain in her leg. An orthopedic doctor thought it was tendonitis but did an MRI just to be sure. The MRI showed that Lauren had a tumor growing in the back of her femur. For insurance purposes, Lauren had to switch doctors and did not find out for a week if the tumor was cancerous or not. Her new doctor finally told her that the tumor was benign but said that if she had run for another week, she would have snapped her femur in half. After surgery, Lauren was on crutches for five weeks to allow her leg to heal and her bone to regrow. The 5-foot-4 defender had a full recovery and managed a return to the team for her senior season. She served as captain in 2017-18 and played in all 17 games.
Lenz graduated in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Kinesiology and a 3.78 grade point average.
The previous Schumacher award winners were Liz Amici, Callie Halama, Reece Krings, Renee Cook Smith, Nicole Christianson, Nancy Tietz Lovaas, Megan Hanson, Julie Bobbe Stodola and Michelle Burns O'Connell.