University College Dublin student Shauna Fitzsimons was awarded the Student Sport Ireland Leadership Award, at the recent SSI Network 2022 event in the Hodson Bay Hotel, in recognition of her stellar work with UCD Boat Club and the wider community of rowing in Ireland, during her studies in the university.
Shauna is a long-serving member of the UCD Men’s Boat Club committee, serving as social secretary, PRO, recruitments officers and more recently as club secretary. In the past number of weeks Shauna has been elected as the first ever female captain of UCD Men’s Boat Club.
Over the past three years, Shauna has also acted as Chair of the University Rowing Committee for Rowing Ireland. In this capacity, Shauna liaises with all third level clubs and is a key driver in leading the organization of the annual University Championships.
As Chair of the University Rowing Committee Shauna has worked with all the third level clubs and institutions, Rowing Ireland and Student Sport Ireland to plan the 2021 and 2022 events. 2021 was very challenging given that it was the first varsity event since COVID, it was held in the summer months and all parties were nervous of ensuring compliance with restrictions, but the event was a huge success. Culminating in UCD winning the overall title which they again secured in 2022.
Shauna’s hard work helped to facilitate the changing of the event rules of the University Championships to reflect the SSI Eligibility Guidelines and also amended the Rowing Ireland Constitution to ensure continued recognition and development of university rowing.
Not content with utilizing and developing her own leadership skills, Shauna identified the importance of developing the skills of others to lead their club in the future. With this in mind, last year, Shauna piloted the Leading Ireland’s Future Together (LIFT) programme in the club.
As a result of the success of LIFT in the UCD Men’s Boat Club, the programme was then brought to UCD Sport who rolled it out to 50 students across every sports club. Feedback from participants was extremely positive and it is envisaged that the programme will be run again next year. During the UCD programme Shauna also acted as a mentor to the facilitators. Indeed, her leadership skills were recognized by Rowing Ireland when she was selected by them as one of their two representatives on the Sport Ireland Women in Leadership programme in 2022.
Shauna also started the club’s first Movember campaign in 2015 which has continued since, raising over €10,000 since its inception.
On the water, Shauna has competed at a Senior level nationally. She has coxed the Men’s Senior 8+ at the University Championships in 2018 and 2022 and was selected to cox the Senior 8+ at the Gannon Cup in 2020. Shauna has won at the Irish national championships, coxing victories in the Men’s Club 8+ in 2016 and Men’s Intermediate 8+ in 2018.