Rudder Recognised for her Commitment to Sport

Retired physical education teacher June Ruder is the 2023 recipient of the Esther Maynard Icon Award, which recognises Barbadian women’s outstanding achievements and excellence in sport, along with their contribution to promoting the advancement of women in sport.

The announcement was made during a ceremony hosted by The Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) Inc’s Women in Sport Commission on Tuesday, March 28, at the Barbados Olympic Centre. Rudder was one of three nominees the Commission chose following a call for nominations from the national federations. The other nominees were Yaima Payne (Wrestling) and Marlene Hall (Netball).

June Rudder receives the 2023 Icon Award from Esther Maynard and BOA President Sandra Osborne.

Rudder is credited with developing an expanded physical education programme at Springer Memorial School, where she taught from 1977 until her retirement. As head of the physical education department, she coached the girls to their first championship win at the Barbados Secondary School Athletic Championships (BSSAC) in 1998, a title the Springer Secondary School would win 15 years in succession.

In addition to teaching, Rudder served as Secretary on the committee to organise the BSSAC and as Meet Director from 1986-2001. She also supervised the introduction of the Meet Manager, a computer software programme, and the use of the electronic timing to record sports, eliminating the onerous manual recording of athletes’ performances. Following her retirement from teaching, Rudder founded Elite Sports, a sports management business offering race management and electronic timing. Under the Elite Sports banner, she produces Step it Up Race and the Glo Run in August and November, respectively.

She was presented with the Esther Maynard Icon Award by the President of the BOA, Sandra Osborne, SCM, K.C. and former BOA director Esther Maynard. Speaking during the ceremony, President Osborne said the award provides an opportunity to celebrate excellence. Moreover, she said, the award is presented in March as an extended celebration of International Women’s Day.

“It presents an opportunity for us to recognise women who, through their work, are actually making a difference in the fight for gender parity,” President Osborne stated.

2023 Esther Maynard Icon Award Nominees.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the Women in Sports Commission, Marsha Boyce, in her remarks, challenged those in attendance to examine what equity looks like in a Barbadian sporting context. 

“While the disparities in terms of sport participation rates between boys and girls, men and women seen in many jurisdictions worldwide may not be as overt in Barbados; it is clear that greater effort is required to channel female participation in the key areas of administration, management and leadership in our sporting organisations, particularly at the highest levels of governance, and in coaching,” she said.

Reflecting on the award, Boyce said the Commission hopes its legacy would be establishing a mentor-mentee pathway for aspiring female leaders in sport to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience.

“Our Commission supports the position that increased visibility for women’s sport has a direct impact not only on participation but also on spectatorship and sponsorship. Increased visibility for female leaders in sport not only makes aspirations more tangible but offers a clear path for others to follow. This Award celebration serves to do just that – highlight women, showcase their achievements to the public and ultimately empower younger generations – igniting them to be remarkable contributors to our society through sport,” Boyce stated.

Accepting the Award, Rudder lauded the other nominees for the excellent work they have been doing in sport. She also encouraged anyone interested in participating in the road race programme she organises to come out.

Rudder is the fourth recipient of the award. Previous awardees were Esther Maynard, after whom the award is named, Kathy Harper-Hall and Sonia O’Neale.