By Kimberly Anderson
A banner stretched above the center of Fitchburg during the 2010 Winter Olympics as a way to support a young Olympian named Erika Lawler. Lawler was one of the chosen few to represent the United States during this year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and she recently returned home to Fitchburg with a new piece of hardware.
Lawler, Olympic USA Women’s Hockey silver medalist, was honored on March 28 with a celebration that was organized by Fitchburg State College and the City of Fitchburg and held at the Wallace Civic Center.
Erika Lawler’s brother, Trevor, plays for the Fitchburg State College men’s ice hockey team, which skated out to honor her at the event; Trevor Lawler also presented his sister with a Falcons hockey jersey.
The Olympian’s father, Kevin Lawler, told the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise that he was glad the city had chosen to honor his daughter. “She’s deserving,” he said.
Fitchburg Mayor Lisa A. Wong praised Lawler in a recent press release. “The entire city of Fitchburg is proud of Erika’s great accomplishments,” said Wong. “She is a great role model for the kids in our community and we are excited to give her a big hero’s welcome.”
According to a Fitchburg State College press release, President Robert V. Antonucci said the college was happy to support Lawler by hosting the event. “When someone like Erika does something so great, everyone wants to participate,” said Antonucci.
In an interview with the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise, Antonucci said that the event was another way for the college and the city to work together.
“We always work in partnership with the city,” said Antonucci. “We felt that by jointly doing this together, it would show the support of the college community with the city. The mayor has always been receptive to working together.”
In the Vancouver Olympics, Lawler played forward on the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey team. She was selected to be on the team in December 2009, and helped Team USA through the competition in Vancouver before losing to Canada in the gold medal game.
Lawler is a graduate of Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, where she was a two-year MVP. She played four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, where she was a member of three national championship teams.