2018 Iain Wilson Award Winners: Courtney Cutler, Thomas Laraia, Caroline Sandbo


Philadelphia, PA -- The Wilson Family, in partnership with Orienteering USA, is pleased to announce the winner of the fifth annual Iain Wilson Character Through Competition Award.  This award honors the memory of Iain Wilson (right) by recognizing young athletes whose efforts demonstrate character through their commitment to growth and improvement in the sport as well as their contribution to the orienteering community through service and teamwork.

This year’s winners, Caroline Sandbo and Courtney Cutler of Cascade Orienteering Club (COC), as well as Thomas Laraia of Minnesota Orienteering Club (MNOC), will each receive a $1,000 travel grant.               

For Caroline, a native of Burlington, Washington, "competition is both a test and a celebration of training." While Caroline loves seeing new places and terrain, her passion is ignited by "a whole new world of people to train with, befriend and learn from."

Her application reminded us that while hard work and education are critical to success in sport and life, fun is an important motivator. By sharing her joy, she seeks to recruit more peers to enter the program, inspiring the next generation of junior orienteers.

One of her coaches, Michael Schuh (COC), writes "Caroline is among the quickest – and most eager and enthusiastic – learners that I have had the pleasure and honor of coaching."

Caroline concludes, "Being adaptable is a part of whom I am because it allows me to move through life the way I move through a race: by readily changing course to consistently reach my destinations."

Courtney, a native of Spanaway, Washington, has competed with Caroline in interscholastic and Orienteering USA events. She describes her entry into the sport three years ago as "a JV girl getting lost and struggling point to point."

Through persistence and determination, she has developed skills and shared them with athletes new to the sport as a mentor and coach. Courtney has connected her personal and academic development to the resilience skills that are required in a sport where wrong turns and missed opportunities become learning moments.

Courtney joins 2013 winner Brigitte Bordelon, by applying her learning to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) activities.

Her motto, "Anything is possible with training," will serve her well both on the course and in life, where she plans to pursue further education at West Point.

Thomas Laraia lives in Houlton, Wisconsin, but has also lived in Taiwan and Singapore. Like Caroline, he has competed for the United States at the Junior World Orienteering Championships.

Coach Erin Schirm highlights Thomas’ "calm attitude and clear thinking" which helps create a balanced and focused team.

His application reflects how highly he values training, particularly as part of a team. He writes, "I train hard so that I can steadily improve and to challenge my teammates to improve alongside me."

Thomas hopes to continue his education in Scotland, where he may cross paths with Iain’s extended family.

Iain’s good friend Anthony Belber, a member of the award committee, observes that "each of our awardees makes a clear connection between developing orienteering skills and how they can be applied to life. It’s fun to see the light come on for these orienteers as they confront and overcome challenges."

Writes Kris Beecroft, President of Orienteering USA, "The Wilson Awards have supported our growing community by recognizing eleven athletes over the last five years. As our community of young athletes grows, the resources provided by the Awards help athletes gain experience and amplify the impact of Orienteering USA's programs."

About Orienteering USA

As the sport’s national federation, Orienteering USA represents thousands of orienteers throughout the country.  For more information or to join visit www.orienteeringusa.org/membership

About The Iain Wilson Character Through Competition Award

The Iain Wilson Awards were established in 2013 to support the efforts of young U.S. orienteers. Awardees are selected through a competitive application and review process. Learn more about the award at www.orienteeringusa.com/wilsonaward or write to iainwilsonaward@comcast.net.

posted 30 March 2018