Leah Herrfort wins gold with Team Canada at World University Games

PALMERSTON – A local youth who learned to skate and play hockey here recently became a world champion at the university hockey level.

University of Waterloo Warriors forward Leah Herrfort was part of Canada’s women’s hockey team at the FISU (Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire) World University Games held in Lake Placid. 

The team, comprised of top players from across the country, took the gold medal with a 5-0 win over Japan on Jan. 21.

For Herrfort, the moment was unforgettable.

“It’s crazy because you watch other athletes on TV or at the Olympics – and I know it wasn’t the Olympics – but at the end of the day, you’re wearing a maple leaf on your chest and you get a gold medal around your neck … that was just a cool feeling in itself and sitting back and looking at that, I’m like ‘Holy crap, I’m a world champion,’” Herrfort told the Community News in a Jan. 30 telephone interview.

 Herrfort began figure skating with the local club in Palmerston at the age of four, and playing in the Minto Minor Hockey system at the age of five. She later switched to girls hockey with the Saugeen-Mailtland Lightning where she played AA at the Pee Wee and Bantam levels.

“From there I went to Cambridge for junior hockey,” she explained.

Not a one-dimensional athlete, Herrfort also played high-calibre softball with the Palmerston Marlins as a youth and continues to play with the Marlins at the adult level.

After graduating from Norwell District Secondary School, Herrfort spent two years at Union College in Schenectady, New York, before transferring to the University of Waterloo, where she is in her second year of economics studies.



Last summer, Herrfort’s coach with the UW Warriors advised her she was on the radar of the Team Canada selection panel. In late November she learned she would be on the national university team.

For the FISU competitions, the final and semi-final games were held in at the Olympic Centre, a 7,700-seat venue where the 1980 Olympic hockey competitions were held.

“It was cool … It would have been more packed if it was the final against the U.S., but we actually put them out in the round robin. They had to beat  us to advance,” Herrfort recalls. 

“That game against the U.S., it was sold out. There was not a single seat open.

“We ended up beating them 2-1, but that was a great game, it was our closest game by far.”

In all, Team Canada went undefeated through seven games to earn the gold medal.

Modest when asked about her individual accomplishments, Herrfort said, “I did pretty well. I scored three or four goals.”

A check of the tournament stats shows Herrfort had four goals and four assists in  the tournament, including a goal in the crucial Jan. 18 preliminary round win over the U.S. and a goal and an assist in the gold medal game.

Leah said her parents, Darcy and Kim Herrfort, attended some of the tournament games and an aunt was also on hand for part of the tournament, providing her with some family to celebrate with as well as her teammates.

As she works toward her economics degree, Herrfort notes she is eligible for two more years of university hockey, which could allow her to compete in another bi-annual FISU world championship.

“It would be kind of cool to stay for that,” she commented.